Virginia union rallies for improved childcare The Commonwealth Times

Speakers at the UCWVA rally. Photo courtesy by Keshia Eugene

Varsha Vasudevan, Staff Writer

Selna Shi, News Editor

United Campus Workers of Virginia, or UCWVA, held a “Childcare for All” campaign rally on Jan. 17.

The rally was held at Capitol Square Park, and mostly included UCWVA and Communications Workers of America union members, with graduate students, staff, working parents and advocates as speakers. 

Katie Logan, co-chair of the UCWVA political coalition and policy committee and member of the VCU chapter, said the union chose to address poor childcare in this rally as it was a recurring issue among members that only worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Logan said the union saw substandard childcare as a “gender justice issue,” because if a child is raised by two parents, usually the partner who identifies as female makes sacrifices in the workplace to care for the child.

“We see it as a reproductive justice issue that some people are making decisions about when they can and cannot have children based on what their work environment looks like,” Logan said. 

UCWVA is a “wall-to-wall” social justice union where all members receive pay from the same organization or university, and focuses on fair and decent working conditions for its members, Logan said. 

Anyone who receives a paycheck from the university is eligible to join, including faculty, workers, and graduate and undergraduate student workers, according to Logan.

UCWVA at VCU began as a university-wide committee that listed demands for “economic justice” and fair working conditions in January 2021, according to the UCWVA website. The committee voted to unionize and went public by April 2021, the website states. 

Logan said UCWVA at VCU focuses on issues impacting both student working and learning conditions. UCWVA plans to accomplish this by appointing advisors and counselors that are experts in specific fields to better serve students’ unique needs, according to Logan. 

“It matters to us that our students are mentally and emotionally supported when they’re on this campus,” Logan said. “That makes everyone’s experience at VCU better and more effective.”

UCWVA is also aiming to obtain stable contracts for university faculty members to ensure fair pay for their work, Logan said.  

“If you’re starting maybe your first year with the faculty member, we want them to be paid and supported and sustained in such a way that you still have them as a contact point your senior year,” Logan said. 

Logan said UCWVA also focuses on graduate students’ stipends and loans. A specific item they are supporting is a bill presented by Virginia Sen. Hashmi, D-10th, which allows students access to their transcripts despite having unpaid debt or loans, according to Logan.  

“Our students really need this legislation,” Logan said. “So, we’re going to fight for that.”

Co-chair of UCWVA political coalition and policy committee Cecelia Parks said the rally was organized to provide a platform for fellow members to share their experiences with poor childcare. 

“We have a really strong structure of workers at VCU, UVA and William and Mary and we were able to draw on that today,” Parks said. 

Parks is a librarian at the University of Virginia and said while she is not a parent, poor childcare in Virginia personally affects her, as it causes her coworkers to often leave work early to care for their children. 

“It really does affect me on a personal level as well as, sort of, all the systemic levels,” Parks said. “If a bunch of our workforce can’t actually work, then what does that actually mean?” 

Parks said the government could provide better childcare by funding and running childcare centers and programs publicly, and not for profit. 

Treyvon Jordan, a researcher at the College of William and Mary and regular attendee at the rally, said he was there to demonstrate his support and solidarity with those personally impacted by poor state-provided childcare. 

Jordan said he believes legislation should shift away from the privatization of childcare and make it a public issue instead. 

“Our tax money should go towards things that help us in the future,” Jordan said. “I would say our kids are definitely something that helps us grow and become a better nation.” 

Jordan said while he doesn’t want to have children himself, he is able to see the impact unsupportive legislation has on other people. 

“We’re a union. So, this is about all of us right?” Jordan said. “We work towards a common good and childcare is a common good.”

Like it? Share with your friends!


What's Your Reaction?

hate hate
confused confused
fail fail
fun fun
geeky geeky
love love
lol lol
omg omg
win win


Leave a Reply