Monday, September 27, 2010

Organizing for Childcare

the Winnipeg IWW General Membership Branch we've really been discussing how to remove barriers to participation, especially for women workers, and we've identified childcare as a significant barrier to participation in our branch and union work. So, I was tasked with coming up with some Assessment stamps in order to raise money and track the donations.

This way, we can build a fund in our branch to hopefully take a couple chips out of that wall. We've had these pretty nice childcare assessments going to a while now, and from them we have raised something like 100-200 dollars to be stashed away for when we need to take care of childcare arrangements. Attached at the end of the message I'll put a PDF of the sheets for people to help disseminate and use in there branches.

That being said, We've still hit walls when it comes to providing space for Brother and Sister workers with children. Having a person available once a month is often difficult to arrange, making our childcare fund most used when there are larger events rather then business meetings. There is still allot of work to do on that front.

Click Here for Childcare Assessment sheet


Anonymous said...

For everyone's information: At the 2006 IWW General Assembly, the following resolution was passed. FW's from the Portland GMB presented it, after a difficult ordeal in getting the hosting branch to supply professional childcare for the duration of the Assembly. -Ryan G.

Regarding childcare at General Assembly:

Assemblies are meetings that are open to all members and are on a "one member, one vote" basis and are not conducted in a legislative style, where representatives vote in accordance to their membership. In order to make this union as democratic as possible, these meetings need to be as accessible to as many members as possible.

Currently, assemblies have a bias to members who are able to travel during a peak holiday weekend. These members often have the financial resources to do this, as well as a job flexible enough to take the time required to do so. Some are without jobs, but with time to arrange alternative travel (hitching etc.). Members with children are doubly taxed, as they often lack financial resources and the time/ability to find alternative travel modes for various reasons. In addition, these members are currently expected to secure their own childcare. They can find childcare in their own cities, and leave their children behind. They can choose which parent stays behind. Finding childcare in a foreign city is an incredible difficulty for what amounts to a number of hours. Securing childcare needs to be a priority of the hosting branch for reasons below.

Childcare is an explosive topic concerning working parents, and especially working mothers in the US. It is left to the individual to take care of this larger societal need. This is a heavy burden placed on workers, and a great financial strain. To deny this or not address this is insensitive to those workers that are already disenfranchised as workers.

While there are a number of progressive, radical fathers in revolutionary organizations, women are by far those who are often left at home unable to attend, finding and paying for childcare, or having their attention pulled in several different ways while trying to attend meetings with their children. These women could diversify our union, and have a voice that needs to be heard. Not addressing childcare needs leads to institutionalized sexism.

At this meeting of the Portland IWW Assembly held on August 20, 2006 (the largest decision making body of the local union), we hereby call upon all IWW branches to assess their childcare needs and prioritize childcare for all IWW meetings and events. In addition, we demand that all future IWW General Assemblies make childcare an essential element of Assembly planning; that childcare be given priority in organizing the event, not be tacked on as an accessory service.

Erik Davis said...

The Twin Cities GMB of the IWW adopted an official childcare document back in 2006, which I am happy to make available to folks at request. We have not had a great track record with making childcare available at every meeting, but have done a good job with making childcare available at most special events, especially and most recently the IWW General Convention here in the Twin Cities.