KIM MEDINA: ‘A constant fight’ ends in victory.

It’s about time: early-childhood educators have ratified an agreement that will boost 300 Teachers’ salaries by up to $20,000, bringing them to parity with Teachers who work for the Department of Education.

By Oct. 1, 2021 certified Teachers with a bachelor’s degree will start at $61,070—$17,435 more than what they are currently paid. Those with a master’s degree will get a $20,784 bump in pay, earning $68,652 as of that date.

‘Historic Achievement’

The contract’s ratification allows certified Teachers working in community-based day-care centers to earn the same starting salaries as those teaching in public schools. District Council 1707 fought aggressively over the past few months to bring an end to the decades-long wage gap, at one point authorizing a strike that was set to take place in May but was ultimately called off.

“This is an historic achievement—after decades of hard work, early-childhood educators are being recognized as true professionals,” said DC 1707 Executive Director Kim Medina. “We never thought this day would come. It was always a constant fight for us because the mindset was that our child-care providers were not Teachers. They were babysitters.”

The pay gap, which currently climbs to more than $35,000 after eight years on the job, has contributed to retention problems in community-based day-care centers. Previous data showed that the average three-year turnover rate was 37 percent.

Six-hundred and twenty-one members cast votes: 472 supported the pact, while 148 voted against it, according to Ms. Medina. (The remaining vote was undecided).

In total, about 315 Teachers represented by DC 1707’s Local 205 will receive the increases. Nine-hundred non-certified Teachers, as well as about 3,000 Janitors, Cooks, and other support staff, will receive a $1,800 ratification bonus and a 2.75-percent wage increase effective Oct. 1, 2021.

Although the agreement does not provide parity for non-certified Teachers, Ms. Medina said the gains were "an incentive for workers to go back to school."

"The more certifications they get, the better it is for them. They already do a fantastic job," she added.

Health Co-Pays Reduced

The pact includes reductions in covered employees’ health-insurance premiums and co-pays. It extends the current contract by two years and expires Sept. 30, 2022.

The ratification vote took place Aug. 2 at District Council 37’s headquarters at 125 Barclay St. Last month, DC 37 announced that it had brought DC 1707 under its banner, increasing its total membership to about 150,000. Ms. Medina will no longer hold the title of executive director and will instead serve as DC 37’s Special Assistant to the Executive Director for Non-Profits and Affiliated Locals, starting Sept. 1.

The deal does not apply to about 2,000 Head Start staff members, who are represented by Local 95. Some day-care employees were concerned because two-thirds of early-childhood education staffers were not unionized, and thus would not receive the benefits of the agreement.

Ms. Medina stated that since the ratification, non-unionized agencies have contacted her about joining.

“This agreement opens the path for us to extend our fight for economic justice to the thousands of other workers in the day-care centers as well,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

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