Labor Family News - Winter 2004

UAW Child Care Apprenticeship Program

Bush Administration Rescinds “Baby UI”

How the Media Covered California’s Campaign for Paid Family Leave

Media “Do’s and Don’ts” for Paid Leave Advocates

Take Care Net



Sharing the Load
The Newspaper Guild –CWA successfully negotiated the option of job sharing for its members at the Times Union newspaper in Albany, New York. In a job share, the 37.5-hour week is divided between the two employees to suit their needs, not necessarily divided equally. Both employees receive benefits on a pro-rated basis, except for healthcare, which is paid in full by the employer. Any hours worked over the regular 37.5-hour week will be paid as overtime. The number of holidays is divided between the employees and pro-rated. The job share partners may change their schedules as long as regular work hours are covered. The Newspaper Guild has negotiated similar job share agreements with other employers around the country. (The Newspaper Guild-CWA & the Times Union)

Longshoremen Commit to Child Care
The Pacific Coast International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) representing longshore and warehouse workers in California, Oregon, and Washington has made a commitment to address the child care needs of its members. In its Pacific Coast Longshore Contract, the union negotiated the formation of a Joint Child-Care Committee to research, plan and implement an on- or near-site 24 hour child care facility. (Pacific Coast ILWU & the Pacific Maritime Association, representing multiple employers)

Fire Fighters Win Family Care Leave
The San Francisco Fire Fighters Union successfully negotiated up to one year of unpaid family care leave for the birth of a child, child-rearing responsibilities or to take care of a physically impaired family member. The definition of “family” includes domestic partners, parents of domestic partners and any child for whom the employee has parenting or child rearing responsibilities. The employee has the option to use accrued vacation time and/or sick leave during family care leave. The employee will continue to receive full health and dental care benefits for him/herself and dependents while on leave. The Union also negotiated the option of a temporary modified duty assignment for up to 6 months for female employees returning to work from maternity leave. (San Francisco Fire Fighters Union Local 798, IAFF & the City and County of San Francisco)

AFSCME Wins Employer Paid Disability
In a memorandum of understanding with the East Bay Regional Park District, AFSCME Local 2428 in California negotiated for employee contributions to the state’s disability insurance program to be paid by the employer. California’s disability insurance is employee-funded and provides partial pay for employees out on disability. Beginning July 2004, employees participating in the program will also be eligible for partial pay when taking leave under California’s new paid family leave law. (AFSCME Local 2428 & East Bay Regional Park District, California)

UAW Leads the Way: Quality Child Care for Members, Quality Jobs for Providers

When the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) got into the child care business on behalf of their members they introduced the union concept of competitive pay and apprenticeship programs to the field. The result is every child care advocate’s dream: affordable, quality child care by well-trained and highly compensated teachers.

In order to provide autoworkers with affordable, quality child care, the UAW negotiated with the “Big Three” auto companies (GM, Daimler-Chrysler, and Ford) in 1991 for child care centers close to UAW unionized plants. Through the agreement, the Big Three subsidize the child care workers’ pay to attract and retain the best quality teachers without putting a burden on the autoworkers. The center teachers, also UAW members, now earn some of the highest wages and benefits in the field. And, like their union brothers and sisters in the auto plants, they now go through an extensive apprenticeship program to receive on-the-job training in addition to classroom learning.

“This is the second year of the program and it is going very well,” says Karen Eaton, Center Director for the UAW child care center in Flint, Michigan. “From my perspective as a director, the apprenticeship program provides the best of both worlds -- hands on experience and book knowledge at the same time. When they succeed, they know they didn’t just pass a test, they performed on the job.”

The UAW developed the Child Development Specialist Apprenticeship (CDSA) Program through a grant from the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. Child care apprentices must complete 3,700 hours of on-the-job training and 300 hours of classroom instruction. The apprentices can get credit for their work experience and earn a paycheck while they learn. And their pay goes up as they complete the program.

According to a joint report by the Center for the Child Care Workforce and the Institute for Industrial Relations, financial incentives linked to training are the key to quality child care. “Quality suffers when there is high turnover due to low pay – but most parents can’t afford to pay the kinds of wages it costs to provide quality care,” explained Angie Klee, President of Synergy Inc., an organization that coordinates child care and other work/family programs. “I think the answer is to subsidize child care – whether it is the government or business. UAW members were successful in negotiating this with their employer and in setting up a great apprenticeship program. Hopefully, others will learn from this model.”

Julia Orr, a center teacher and UAW member in Flint, Michigan agrees that professional training and higher pay helped her stay and grow in her current program. “10 years ago I was making $5/an hour in child care -- I couldn’t afford to stay at that program!” she said. “I have been here 8 years now – we have almost 0% turnover at this center. Being paid fairly makes a difference. And the apprenticeship program gives us room to grow professionally as well. This is the way it should be – I would really like to see programs like this in the rest of child care.”

Bush Administration Rescinds “Baby UI”

On October 9th, 2003, the Bush administration officially rescinded the "Baby UI" Rule.
The Rule permitted states to pass a law that would allow workers to use unemployment insurance (“UI”) to take parental leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. Even though no states had taken advantage of the ruling to extend UI to new parents, supporters of Baby UI see it as a step back from allowing states to meet their families needs.

According to Lissa Bell of the National Partnership for Women and Families, by responding to American workers’ critical need for income during family leave, the Rule gave states the chance to help new parents stay employed while on leave. “While the Rule did not create, but rather "blessed," this right, the Bush administration's withdrawal of the Rule is an attempt to chill potential state UI Parental Leave initiatives,” she said. “As a consequence, American families are hurt.”

Making The Case For Paid Family Leave:
How California’s Landmark Law Was Framed In The News

By Lori Dorfman, Berkeley Media Studies Group

Advocates won paid family leave in California faster than anyone imagined they would — but not without a fight. To aid our understanding of this important public debate, the Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) examined the battle with an analysis of how proponents and opponents of the Paid Family Leave Bill (Senate Bill 1661) made their case in news coverage.

BMSG collected news from California and the nation as debate on SB 1661 heated up in the months prior to the Governor’s signing the bill and the weeks following, from June 1 through October 31, 2002. The 304 newspaper, radio and television pieces they analyzed contained 15 different frames on paid family leave: six supporting the policy, six against, and three neutral.

Frames in support of SB 1661 emphasize the benefits of paid family leave for family health and well-being; as a response to workplace realities; or as a benefit making both individual businesses and the whole state stronger and more competitive. The Caring family, bonding moms frame emphasized the value of the law to families. Balancing work and family reminded audiences of the context for paid family leave. These two frames appeared most often, in part because both sentiments were articulated at the top of the legislation itself. Business wins too explained that happy workers meant profitable businesses. Make family leave real pointed out the difficulties of family leave without real support; Corporate family values said that businesses have a responsibility to the communities in which they work, including support for their workers; and Competitive advantage maintained that paid family leave would enhance the business climate in California.

The frames against SB 1661, in descending order, include: Unfair burden; Competitive disadvantage; Tax on jobs; Nanny state/slippery slope; Good idea, but…; and No safeguards. The thrust of these frames is that paid family leave, while perhaps a nice idea, will be a burden to workers, employers, businesses and the state as a whole, and more darkly, could set California on a slippery slope toward a European-style welfare state. Through a strong network of local spokespeople connected to the Chambers of Commerce, opponents were able to repeat the Unfair Burden frame in most news coverage.

The three neutral frames have more to do with routine news constructions then with paid family leave per se. They represent typical tenets of what is considered newsworthy: “firsts” and “political contests.” The Landmark law frame is about California being the first state in the nation to enact paid family leave. Slugfest highlights the political contest and Political ploy focuses on Governor Davis’ support of paid family leave as a political maneuver to attract support at the polls.

Television coverage had fewer frames than print. Television news focused primarily on Balancing work and family, illustrating the frame with multiple images of mothers caring for their infants. Television news could easily leave viewers with the impression paid family leave was about moms and babies rather than various forms of family care it actually covers.

BMSG’s framing analysis provides insight into California’s fight for paid family leave, but there will be unique challenges, frames and points of contention in every state that works to enact this essential public policy. As advocates in other states work to secure passage of similar laws, supporters should remember to tie the technical talk to values, so that paid family leave’s purpose is not lost in a technical sea of numbers and nuances.

Download a copy of Making the Case for Paid Family Leave: How California’s Landmark Law was Framed in the News at Find this and other studies from the Berkeley Media Studies Group at

Media “Dos and Don’ts” When Advocating for Paid Family Leave

Framing paid family leave effectively can be challenging: our arguments are more complicated and lengthy, while our opposition gets away with being short and sweet. Don’t let that stop you, though. Making the case for paid family leave in the news media is more important than ever. Inserting arguments for paid family leave into public discussion bolsters our supporters and helps them speak out and join the fight. If we don’t make ourselves and our beliefs visible, our core supporters will feel they are all alone and be less likely to voice their support when the time comes.

A few simple hints for success:


get bogged down responding to an opponents’ frame. The idea is not to convince the opposition, but to give voice to those who agree with you. Say what your supporters need to hear, the words that connect to why they value paid family leave.

focus on details; keep to your main point. Explain the nuances of legislation when you have to, but don’t stop there. Connect the details to why paid family leave is essential for a happy, healthy society.

have a clear strategy. Know when media coverage is important to attract, and when to avoid it.

state the values up front. Say why paid family leave will make a difference to those who need to take it, the businesses they work in, and the communities where they live.

use numbers in a consistent and vivid way to make your case. Illustrate those numbers with compelling comparisons that make the numbers real i.e. it will cost less than a cup of coffee a day.

be prepared when speaking to the press. Get training if you need it, anticipate hard questions, and practice answering them out loud.

For more on how to develop media advocacy strategies for advancing policy, see News for a Change: An Advocate’s Guide to Working With the Media, available from a link at, publications.

Take Care Net

The U.S. is experiencing a silent crisis of care. Those who need care, ranging from young children to the elderly and people with disabilities, often receive poor care or no care at all. Those who give care to others, and particularly the women who provide most paid and unpaid care, receive low or no wages, few or no benefits, and experience penalties in the labor market. It is time to take care of those who give and those who need care in the U.S.
Take Care Net is a new network to mobilize experts to speak out on these issues. Take Care Net will:

The focus for 2004 is child care/early childhood education and paid family leave. Members of Take Care Net will provide and help disseminate research on these issues to the media and policy-makers and help support relevant legislation
For more information, go to To get involved, contact Bob Drago,, (814)883-9907.


Labor-Management Partnerships for Working Families, MIT Workplace Center.
This publication highlights 3 labor-management partnerships that are on the forefront of helping union members with work-family issues. The issues they cover include child care, after school care parental leave, programs for teams, flexible work schedules including part time work and job shares. The unions highlighted are 1199/SEIU, UAW and Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers. To order, call 617-253-7996 or email

Two New Studies on Unionization and Child Care from Canada:
Unionization and Quality Early Childhood Programs. A CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees)-commissioned study indicates that unionization has a positive effect on child care workers, the children they care for, their parents and society. In other words, unionization of child care workers is good public policy.

The Union Advantage in Child Care
How unionization can help recruitment and retention. By Jamie Kass, Canadian Labour Congress Representative on the Child Care Human Resources Sector Council and Bozica Costigliola, Child Care and Labour Communications Consultant.

You can download either paper 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

Reprints Permitted With Acknowledgement. Call us for an email version.

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