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Day Care Workers March In Manhattan Demanding Better Pay, Respect

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Day care providers marched on city and state offices Tuesday demanding more respect and more money. NY1's Rebecca Spitz was at their rally and says they're asking one of the city's most powerful unions to lend them some muscle. She filed the following report.

Chanting "overworked and underpaid," home day care providers marched in Downtown Manhattan Tuesday.

They started at the city's Human Resources Administration, the office that pays them, and marched to the State Office of Children and Family Services or OCFS, the office that sets their salary rate, along the way demanding back pay they say is owed them.

"Those people that work up in that building, they get paid and they get paid on time," said Bertha Lewis at the rally. "They get paid well, and they ain't taking care of our most precious possession: our children."

Salary increases for day care providers went into effect last October, but these providers say they never heard about them and certainly haven't been paid at the new rate.

"The hours of work, it's 10-12 hours a day, long hours," says day care provider Susan Brewer. "We - all of the providers - feel that we should get paid what we deserve."

"We do what we're supposed to do, and we're not being recognized and acknowledged for what we're doing," says day care provider Jacqueline Brooks.

They also say they're getting less money than their counterparts in other parts of the state.

"They are getting $250 per week per child," says day care provider Bridget Carruth. "How much do we get? 150! Is a child a child? Is a child a child!"

OCFS says the salary rates differ simply because the cost of living varies from one part of the state to another and the rates are decided accordingly.

Meantime, providers are turning to the United Federation of Teachers for help as they move to start a union.

"When we saw this situation last year we said 'let us take the risk of unionizing them,' and we now have 6,000 of the 30,000 who've signed cards and say they want to be represented," says Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

If the push to unionize is successful, New York would be the second state to have organized home day care workers. That right, though, needs legislative approval, and there is no word on whether that will happen.

OCFS says that it will try to process day care provider requests for back pay as quickly as possible.

- Rebecca Spitz
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