On May 25, childcare employees at the University Park Campus voted to unionize under the SEIU Local 99 group, which represents K-12 and community college employees throughout Southern California. The childcare workers under KinderCare, an American corporation operating for-profit childcare.
Employees are hoping to resolve working conditions and enforce stricter teacher-to-child ratio standards. They are believed to be the first KinderCare workers to fully unionize; the company employs around 24,000 people across the United States.
Gino Sandoval, a UPC preschool teacher, spoke of the aims of the unionization in a press release, and expressed excitement at the new developments.
“We look forward to sitting down with UPC management. We hope they will quickly begin good-faith union contract negotiations so that things can improve,” Sandoval said. “This decision to unite and seek a voice at UPC came out of many late-night discussions amongst ourselves outside of work hours.”
Sandoval also spoke of the issues that workers faced at the workplace, including health and safety violations, which prompted the removal of a center director. The exact incidents were not discussed in the press release.
“We were concerned about out-of-ratio classrooms and health and safety violations. After an investigation into these critical issues, the former center director was removed. We hoped for improvement after that, but instead witnessed what we felt was ongoing mismanagement.”
SEIU Local 99 is a Southern California-based union group that represents around 45,000 employees in public and private organizations that work in the education field. SEIU Local 99 lists its mission to “protect and develop the welfare and interest of our membership.”
This development comes in a string of worker’s strikes earlier this year from healthcare workers and cafeteria employees on the Health Science Campus. On the UPC campus, adjunct faculty from both the Roski School of Art and Design and USC International Academy voted to join the Service Employees International Union Local 721.
The University did not immediately respond to request for comment.