The last days of the legislative session before adjournment are always filled with an array of last minute surprises. Nevertheless, I’ll admit my shock when a brazen gut-and-amend bill with far-reaching implications appeared. Assembly Bill 101, a bill to unionize child care workers, is co-authored by Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg.
Only a couple of weeks ago, Assembly Bill 889 (Ammiano), affectionately known as “The Babysitter Bill,” showed up on the radar, although the bill has already passed the Assembly and appeared to be on track to make to the Governor’s desk. AB 889 would require household “employers” (aka parents) to pay minimum wage, provide workers’ compensation benefits, meal and rest breaks, as well as overtime pay to any “domestic employee,” even a babysitter, over the age of 18 from the first hour worked. AB 101 picks up where AB 889 leaves off.
Both licensed and license-exempt child care providers who receive state subsidies will be required to join an exclusive “provider organization” if 50% or more of those targeted “show interest.” Sign a card, join the union. No secret ballot required. No opting out. Suddenly, whether she likes it or not, Grandma is a dues-paying union member and an employee entitled to collective bargaining, negotiated benefits and union protection.
Under AB 101, dues will be involuntarily extracted from provider subsidy payments to grow the union, which can then be used to support political campaigns. Less money for providers, more for union representation. Your tax dollars at work.
The state already spends $3 billion a year on child care, and this bill is projected to add tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in new state costs. There are already rumblings from the Democrat majority about anticipated negative impacts of the looming budget trigger cuts. The most obvious question is: If we can’t keep our state parks open, where do Assembly Speaker Perez and Senator Steinberg expect to find the money to pay for this bill?
Nevertheless, all reason aside, let’s assume AB 101 passes. Once the union gets these employees wearing matching t-shirts, can we expect to see Cal-OSHA inspectors enforcing workplace safety standards, and ADA requirements – in our homes? Should we expect regulations to ensure that any services with a connection to state funding give priority to licensed, unionized child care workers? Will the state soon require that our children be exposed to nothing other than a state-approved toddler and preschool curriculum? And, when the cost of care becomes unaffordable as a result of excessive regulatory fees and benefits, will the push intensify to create a universal child care program supported generously with your tax dollars? Sure, why not?
We must also presume that, as time passes, the state will make it virtually impossible to fire an inept or unsafe unionized child care worker by establishing a complex investigatory and disciplinary process. But, not to worry: the state will place the bad apples on administrative leave so they can stay home and receive a paycheck while an appointed board composed of highly paid, slow moving bureaucrats consider ways to avoid taking them off the payroll – as long as the union dues keep coming. Sound familiar?
AB 101 appears to be a multi-pronged approach to expand the reach of government, increase the union base, and funnel state money to union interests and, ultimately, campaigns.
So the only questions that remain are: 1) Did Assembly Member Perez and Senator Steinberg intentionally wait until the last minute to attempt to avoid public debate? 2) Will it pass? And 3) Will Governor Brown sign it?
The answers seem pretty obvious. And, since Friday is the last day of this year’s legislative session, it won’t be long before we know for sure.
You can read AB 101 here: