Opinion: Early educators should have the right to organize

I have been a homecare provider for eight years now and was faced with many hardships through my job and nowhere to turn to help make these programs work better for everyone. It wasn’t until two years ago, when we started to organize our union with the help of Vermont Homecare United, we won the right to have a union.
During last year’s legislative session we finally gained a voice and an opportunity to improve the level and quality of care we provide as homecare workers. We are now working within our union and have hope that our profession will have a voice to speak for the quality of care we provide that is essential to our communities. We have hope that we will have input on our working conditions and how to meet our fundamental needs. I have learned when working people are thriving, so is the economy.
I have two children. Two children I struggle to find childcare for. Many providers are no longer providing because, like independent homecare providers, conditions make the work undesirable. I feel early education is the first education and the foundation for the rest of my child’s life. I play a huge role but when I am working 50 hours a week my childcare provider is influencing my child’s future.
Quality work comes from quality professions, based on services provided, not best bang for your buck. Care is something that is not a commodity. We need it in order to contribute our services to our communities.
Please understand early educators should have the right to organize a union to speak to how their professions need improvement. I need quality early educators that have quality working conditions. I support early educators’ right to organize. Will you too?
Amanda Sheppard
Therapeutic Riding Instructor
Homecare Provider/Vermont Homecare United Bargaining Committee
Vermont Workers’ Center Steering Committee

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