Labor Family News - Summer 2002

Flexible Child Care for Grad Students

New Benefits for State Workers

Beyond 9 to 5 -Child Care for Service Workers

Paid Time Off for Families - Washington





New Benefits for State Workers

California State Employees Association Local 1000 recently negotiated new work/family benefits. Some highlights:

Paid Parental Leave

Massachusetts Society of Professors, MTA, NEA negotiated paid parental leave in their latest contract with the University of Massachusetts. It covers the Amherst and Boston campuses. Full time tenured and tenure-track faculty and librarians will receive one semester of paid leave covering biological and adoptive parents of a child under 5 years of age. The leave must be taken in the semester that the birth or adoption occurs or the adjacent semester. The worker must use accrued sick leave and if sick leave is insufficient, they may draw against the sick leave bank. FMLA leave runs concurrently with parental leave. (MSP/MTA and University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees)

Flexible Child Care for Grad Students

UAW Local 2322 represents 2400 graduate student employees at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In a previous contract, the Union negotiated "Flex Care", part time/part week child care for 40 children to meet the needs of students as part of the University child care center. Priority is given to low income graduate and undergraduate students.
In their last negotiations, the University tried to withdraw support for the "Flex Care" program. The Union fought back and won. Six months later, the University closed the 5 regular child care classrooms of the center (not Flex Care). These classrooms for faculty and staff were not covered by the faculty/staff union contract. However massive organizing by faculty, staff and students restored 3 of the classrooms. (UAW Local 2322 and University of Massachusetts)


Paid Time Off for Families - Washington State

A bill signed into law in March 2002 will allow workers to use their sick leave or other paid time off to care for seriously ill spouses, parents, parents in law, grandparents and disabled children over 18. State law already covered use of accrued sick leave to care for an ill child under 18. More information is available at

Lactation Accommodation

A new California law, sponsored by the California Council of Machinists, requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a reasonable break time to employees desiring to express milk during work hours and to provide mothers with an appropriate, private space (other than a toilet stall) in which to express milk, that is in close proximity to the employees' work area. Employers are exempt if their operations would be seriously disrupted by providing break time to employees desiring to express milk. Fine is $100 per violation. For more details, go to

Beyond 9 to 5 - the Challenge of Child Care for Service Industry Workers

The challenge of finding quality child care in a safe, stimulating environment is difficult for most working parents but for parents in the 24/7 service industry, additional challenges that must be considered include early morning and late night work shifts, a schedule that can change week to week and often, a low income. When faced with such limiting factors, how does a parent find the best available child care? What are the options available? How do parents decide?

HERE Local 2 represents approximately 8,500 hotel and restaurant workers in San Francisco. The union has gone a long way in helping its members with both child and elder care issues. Through a labor-management fund negotiated in 1994, members can receive a subsidy to offset the cost of formal child care - usually care provided in a licensed child care program or after school center - and informal, or unlicensed, child care. In 2001, a survey was conducted through interviews with fund participants to identify the reasons behind current child care choices and to establish what type of care members would prefer, if there were no barriers in place. The interviews were conducted in English, Spanish and Chinese.

The majority of the survey participants were married with 1-2 children and 1/3 had a third adult living in the home. Over half were Asian and 23% Hispanic. Only 8% spoke English at home as the primary language. The members tended to work the same number of hours each week but with a varying weekly schedule.

The Challenge of Finding Care
According to the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, San Francisco County ranks second in the state for child care supply, yet it still only meets 41% of the estimated need for child care. For parents in the service industry, finding care that accommodated their changing work schedule and hours of work beyond 9-5 added to the usual challenges of cost and availability.
Most parents' decisions around the care chosen were based on the following:

Of the parents who chose a formal child care setting, 2/3 chose care provided in a licensed center. For parents who chose informal child care, many chose a family member who would not only be flexible but was trusted and cost less than a provider in a formal setting. 70% of the providers of informal care offered odd-hour care. In contrast but not surprisingly, only 18% of those in a formal setting received the same flexibility.

Level of Satisfaction
Regardless of the type of care chosen, parents were for the most part satisfied with their choice of care. This is reflected in the length of time many of the children had been with the same caregiver. Those in informal care had the same provider for almost 5 years and those in formal care had the same provider for approximately 3 years, reflecting a very high rate of stability for both types of care.

Illustrated by the longevity of utilizing the same provider, the decision-making behind parental choice for care seems, for the most part, to meet parental needs. Indeed, when asked to state the care they would choose if there were no restrictions, 67% of the participants with children in formal care stated they would keep the same provider, compared with 46% of those using informal care.
30% of participants using informal care stated they would rather have their child in a licensed center than informal care. The main reasons were:

These parallel the main reasons why those already in formal care would choose to remain with the same licensed provider.

Those receiving informal care and who stated they would keep the same provider were for the most part using a family member. They believed a family member provided better care and had a higher level of trust and familiarity.

For those in a 24/7 service industry, the decision-making behind parental choice of child care is complicated and involves many work considerations including hours worked, weekend and evening shifts, and ever changing schedules. While parents feel that licensed care benefits their children's social and mental development, it is clear that availability, cost and access to odd-hour care, in conjunction with work considerations, impact parents access to licensed care. In the face of these obstacles many parents have come to rely on relative care, which at a minimum allows them to put their child with someone they trust. (The survey was done by the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network and the Labor Project for Working Families and this article was written with the assistance of Carlise King and the Network)


Pocket Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Acts, NEW 2ND EDITION! California Public Employee Relations. A "user friendly" guide to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the California Family Rights Act of 1993. The Pocket Guide spells out who is eligible for leave, increments in which leave can be used, various methods of calculating leave entitlements, record keeping and notice requirements, and enforcement. For employees, union officials, and labor relations managers. For more information, go to Order for $10 each (Discounts for larger orders) through University of California Press Journals, Fax 510-642-9917, Email:

Union Contracts Database:
One Stop on line clearinghouse of cataloged and digitized complete text of union contracts. The contracts include union, employer, state, time period contract is in effect, and occupational titles of employees covered. The contracts can be search by key words. The project is seeking more contracts. For more information, contact Lincoln Cushing, Institute of Industrial Relations Library, UC Berkeley, (510) 642-1056,

Credit Where Credit is Due: Using Tax Breaks to Help Pay for Child and Dependent Care. A new, easy to use guide that describes 4 tax breaks to help pay for child and dependent care, how much they can be worth and how to claim them. A collaboration between the National Women's Law Center and the American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care. For more information, go to

Work-Related Child-Care Centres in Canada 2001. Human Resources Development Canada, Labor Program. This report reviews current practices around workplace child care centres that are sponsored/ supported by the employer, unions, or an employee group. It gives examples and the history of how the program got started and who was involved in the process. Free copies are available. Call (819) 994-6313 or

Ask A Working Woman - Survey 2002

Ask A Working Woman Survey 2002, conducted for the AFL-CIO. More information is available at:

Labor Family News is published quarterly by:

Labor Project for Working Families
2521 Channing Way #5555
Berkeley, CA 94720
Ph: 510-643-7088
Fax: 510-642-6432

Netsy Firestein

Jenya Cassidy
Managing Editor

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