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Dear Amy,

I work in a daycare/preschool and am wondering if there is a union for daycare workers. Most of us are women and minorities and paid very badly. In my particular center, we don't get paid sick days even after 1 year. and we work in a place where we are constantly being exposed to sickness. Plus my son goes there, so I catch what he catches.

On top of this, we can technically be fired for missing three days or more. It seems like a built in way to get rid of anyone unfairly. A man owns the center and the director, a woman, does not even get free child care. She makes only as much as I do. ItÕs ridiculous. She can't afford formula for her new baby. I'm really interested in unionizing. please let me know if you know where I can find information that could help myself and my coworkers. I suspect this is a problem in many daycares.




Dear Lydia --

I actually haven't heard of a union for day care workers, but you can always unionize yourself. The only real restriction on that -- or obstacle is if you live in a Right To Work State -- there 22 of them out there and essentially that says that even if you have a union you don't have to join it -- or it's not automatic.

I suggest that you contact one of the union groups to see if they have guidelines for going about setting up such a union, perhaps, the Local 1099 or Acorn, which works mostly around housing issues, but they always seem to have relationships with local unions, plus they themselves exist in most communities and therefore would be a good resource.

I hope that helps -- and please let me know if you need more suggestions -- Amy