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Mass. Teachers Unions Back Bill to Organize Early Educators

The Massachusetts Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts are backing legislation that would authorize the creation of a statewide union for early-childhood educators. According to the Massachusetts Early Childhood Educators Union web site, the proposed union would unite early-childhood teachers and center directors to bargain collectively with the state over compensation, benefits, and teacher training.

Employees at more than 1,000 child-care centers either with state contracts or accepting state subsidies would be eligible to join the union, reports The Boston Globe.

But some early-education and care providers are opposing the effort due to concerns that higher salaries would force them to raise tuition. The Globe quotes Kevin Washington, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater Boston, saying: "It messes with affordability. In the long run, it will affect quality.''

The American Federation of Teachers has a track record of organizing early-childhood educators. Its Innovation Fund recently awarded its local in St. Louis a grant to develop high-quality professional development for pre-K teachers in the city's public schools, and called it a next step after winning more funding for the program.

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