RICHMOND — United Campus Workers of Virginia, comprised of members from several state colleges and universities, including William & Mary, held a rally for accessible childcare on Jan. 17 in Richmond.
This is the second year that United Campus Workers of Virginia (UCWVA), a union for workers in Virginia’s public higher education system, held a rally on lobby day. Representatives from the union also spoke with various government officials regarding issues they have witnessed in the system.
The rally included speakers from all chapters, including Virginia Commonwealth University, William & Mary, and the University of Virginia. During the presentation, members shared their personal struggles with childcare affordability, as well as their concerns over how long waitlists can be for those facilities.
“There is a childcare center on campus. William & Mary owns the building but it’s a private organization that runs the Childcare Campus Center,” said Zarah Quinn, a Ph.D. student and campaign lead for “Childcare for All” at William & Mary. “What we found when talking with parents, both current and former, that used the Childcare Center, is that it is generally inaccessible and barely affordable or unaffordable. The waitlist can be up to two years and the cost can be up to $1,200 a month.”
“This is an issue that impacts everyone from students on campus, graduate students, and faculty and staff. We think that a childcare campus center can really benefit the Williamsburg and William & Mary communities,” Quinn added in an interview with WYDaily at the rally.
UCWVA hopes to achieve “yes” votes on Sen. Ghazala Hashmi’s budget amendment to provide funds for more slots for low-income workers at VCU’s childcare centers, HB1423/SB1404 to create the Commission on Early Childhood Care and Education and hold the Commission accountable to fulfill its charge and implement its findings, and on efforts to direct more public funds to early childhood education and ensure that any legislation includes strong protections for workers (including appropriate and competitive wages.)
In addition to the “Childcare for All” campaign, UCWVA supports legislation that it believes will improve the working conditions for members and help institutions better serve all Virginians, such as Sen. Creigh Deeds’s bill to require faculty and staff representation on the University of Virginia Board of Visitors and ensure that faculty and staff get to choose their own representatives.
This also includes supporting Sen. Hashimi’s bill to end the practice of institutions of higher education withholding transcripts from students with outstanding debt.
For more information about UCWVA, visit the official Union website.