Principled Democrats Against Organizing Day Care Providers
To give credit where it is due, I note that Warwick Democrat Al Gemma has taken a principled stand against the “organizing” of Home Day Care providers. From the ProJo:
House leaders succeeded in passing a bill last night that would force the state to negotiate with home-based child-care providers over the terms of their work and pay, although the vote fell short of the margin needed to insulate the measure from Governor Carcieri’s promised veto.
The final vote on the bill, sponsored by Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence, was 41 to 27, with 2 abstentions and 5 members absent. Proponents could require as many as 44 votes for a veto override.
Lawmakers spent nearly three hours debating various amendments that made, or proposed to make, significant changes to the legislation. One that succeeded, from Rep. Paul W. Crowley, D-Newport, would no longer require the providers to vote to unionize in order to gain negotiating power with the state.
But Republicans protested fiercely that Democrats were “stifling debate” when House Whip Peter F. Kilmartin, D-Pawtucket, moved to limit discussion on the bill itself to just 10 minutes. That motion succeeded on a vote of 37 to 30.
“Go ahead, you puppets!” hollered Rep. Joseph A. Trillo, R-Warwick, at colleagues as the final vote to pass the bill was tallied.
Still, at least five loyalists broke ranks with House leadership on the issue, including Rep. Arthur J. Corvese, D-North Providence, Rep. Fausto C. Anguilla, D-Bristol, and Rep. Al Gemma, D-Warwick, who called the bill’s ramifications “crazy.”
Even though it passed, there aren’t enough votes to override the veto promised by Gov. Carcieri. I applaud these Democrats for showing some common sense and standing where they always should: with the Rhode Island taxpayer. I hope they maintain this outlook when it comes to pension reform.
Update: The RI Senate passed their own version and the House’s version of the same bill, but, unlike in the House, the Senate passed it with enough margin to override any veto. Nonetheless, a few Democrats crossed the aisle to vote against the proposal.
Sen. Joseph M. Polisena, D-Johnston, one of seven Democrats to join the chamber’s Republicans in opposition, said the bill would cost the state “millions upon millions of dollars.” Polisena said he believed providers would still seek pensions and full family-insurance coverage in the future.
“The taxpayers in this state, in my opinion, are about to revolt,” he warned. “They’ll do so in about 17 months when it comes to election time. They’ve had it, that’s what they keep telling me.
“Remember, your constituents are watching, no doubt about it, and they’re counting on you to protect their pockets,” he said.
Like Polisena, Sen. Michael J. Damiani, D-East Providence, said rank-and-file union members he spoke with told him they didn’t support the bill. He said the supporters were the union leaders who wanted more dues.
Damiani said he’d never been told why the bill was really necessary.
“There’s a skunk in this woodpile — something smells. I haven’t put my finger on it yet,” he said, but, “I’m going to call it a feeling in my bones.”
Sen. June N. Gibbs, R-Middletown, chairwoman of the Permanent Legislative Child Care Commission, said the state had set up a “remarkable” child-care system and had steadily improved it with the cooperation of home-based and center-based providers.
“‘Why would we want to change it?” she said. “Why would we do something that could split these coalitions, possibly setting one group [of providers] against each other? It just doesn’t make any sense.”