The University is taking steps to find a solution to one of the issues remaining unresolved at the conclusion of last year’s two strikes. The Provost’s office recently said that it is currently in negotiations to explore expanding daycare options in the Yale community.
In December, members of Local 34 and GESO presented the Yale Corporation with a letter calling for “affordable, on-site daycare” services. That same month, 100 workers were arrested in a civil disobedience when approximately 500 mostly female workers and graduate students marched for improved daycare options. Yale’s Divinity School offers full-time daycare for $7200 per year. The rest of the University currently offers pre-tax benefits that may be applied to childcare costs, but no specific childcare services or subsidies for childcare.
In our opinion, simply offering pre-tax benefits, while admirable, is not adequate. We would rather see the University providing something tangible, an actual service that could be used by employees. We believe affordable, on-site daycare should be a goal and eventual reality for Yale and its workers.
That said, we do recognize the financial cost of such a venture. Building a facility, hiring and training staff, and making their services available at a reasonable price will certainly not come without a price tag. Obviously, offering daycare could be added to an almost infinite list of ways Yale could improve given infinite funds, and we are not so naive as to believe Yale is reaching into a bottomless pocketbook. But while we understand that our call for affordable, on-site health care rests on utopian-like arguments, we still believe it is a viable and an important goal for the University to work toward.
It’s hard to argue against the importance of high-quality and affordable daycare, and it is just about as uncontroversial a service as the University could provide. Offering it could be a gesture that Yale is serious about its promises to work toward a better relationship with its employees and to smooth over its rocky past with its unions. Yale stands to benefit as well; affordable daycare options mean that those with young children can spend time on the job instead of quitting work until their children get older. It will help parents be longer-term employees, keeping those with valuable experience at Yale instead of in the home.
Offering daycare services would also make Yale a great model for other universities and employers — many of which have already moved toward their own on-site daycare programs. Daycare in general means that women and single parents can have careers, and that children can be raised in two-income families. In this way, providing daycare means more than making a valuable service available to employees. It is an investment — not only in Yale’s staff and their families, but in the future of the city.