The pandemic underscored the stark differences in pay, working conditions, and respect between K-12 educators and child care teachers in many communities. The disparity is rooted in race, class and gender: Child care teachers are more likely to be female, less likely to be white, and more likely to come from lower-income backgrounds than public school teachers.

In spite of historically poor treatment and low pay, child care workers have been exceptionally hard to unionize, due to high turnover rates, the geographic spread and isolation of the workforce, labor laws, and other factors.

Yet there have been union victories in recent years. In California, Child Care Providers United, which represents more than 40,000 home-based providers, won the right to collective bargaining in 2019, and last year secured a second substantial reimbursement increase from the state for many home child care providers. In New Mexico, where it’s harder for employees to unionize, organizers have taken a different tack: Through the leadership of an organization called OLÉ, parents and child care teachers joined forces to organize a public awareness campaign which contributed to voters approving a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a right to free child care for most of the state’s families.

I spoke earlier this month with Alexa Frankenberg, executive director of California’s Child Care Providers United, and Brenda Parra, senior digital strategist for OLÉ about how to effectively organize child care workers and the importance of diverse strategies for doing so. The interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

Read the full article about organizing childcare workers by Sarah Carr at The Hechinger Report .