June 26, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – DC 1707 Executive Director Raglan George, the man who has for months led a one-man, pro-child care march outside City Hall, paused this week to thank New York City Council members for helping to restore some $60 million in potentially devastating budget cuts to publicly subsidized programs. But the union chief says that his campaign for comprehensive child care funding will continue until Mayor Michael Bloomberg packs up and leaves office.
“My crusade is going to be ongoing until this man gets out of office,” George said. “I want people to know just what kind of individual this is. He is a terrible man. He is not a good person. He has not done well for early childhood education.”
George’s low opinion of the chief executive stems from the administration’s attempt to reinvent pubic-center based child care through the implementation of Early Learn – a program that critics charge has forced out experienced educators and actually made vital child care harder for working parents to access.
“One of the things that the mayor has done in gutting the program is threaten the jobs of many of our members who lost their jobs as a result of what has happened,” George said. “And further threatening them again this year by saying he is not going to restore the budget.”
Although gratified with the city council’s action’s tentatively hammering out a budget deal that restores vital monies to existing child care programs, George pointed out that more problems remain.
“They put back as much as they could under their power,” George said. “It’s going to be somewhat close to, or maybe a little bit better than the money that was put back last budget. But there are things still out there that we need to be concerned about.”
Those things include the nebulous status of worker pension programs, which George says might be “fixed going forward for one year,” and still unpaid vacation monies.
“We’re still struggling to get the vacation pay,” George said. “The administration said they are going to pay it, and they are taking their very good time to do that. Maybe they’re waiting for the next administrator to worry about that. But this mayor should pay back the workers that he owes under his auspices. He should put the money back and pay the money that’s owed them.”
DC 1707 has yet to endorse a candidate for mayor. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio lent support to George’s campaign for child care earlier this spring, but the executive director says that the union’s decision will come shortly after the budget is officially approved.
Labor groups do not appear to be coalescing around a single candidate. Comptroller John Liu recently locked up the support of Plumbers Local 1, while City Council Speaker Christine Quinn earned 32BJ’s endorsement.
“We need to revamp this Early Learn,” George said. “Put back the money, make sure that money is always there so we won’t have to struggle every year for it, and further develop a department that looks at early childhood education for real.”