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Bill to let child-care workers unionize approved

September 9, 2011 |  1:49 pm

State lawmakers on Friday gave final approval to a measure Friday allowing tens of thousands of child-care workers in California to unionize, a major victory for politically powerful labor unions.

The bill, AB 101, was pushed through along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans objecting to what they termed the unionization of "baby-sitters." Gov. Jerry Brown must now decide whether to sign or veto the proposed law.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed three prior versions of the legislation. Brown, a Democrat, has not taken a position.

The bill, introduced by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) and rushed through in the waning days of the legislative session, would allow the unionization of as many as 80,000 people who receive state funds to provide child care in their homes.

Republican lawmakers said it would simply drive up costs for cash-strapped California or reduce how many children could be cared for. "I don't know the last time we unionized something the costs went down." said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino).

The measure spurred testy debate, with Democrats taking issue with what they termed the denigration professional child-care providers as baby-sitters.

"I take great offense" said Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica). Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) suggested such language was a "subterfuge against women."

The measure passed 50-23, with no Republicans in support.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento