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Brightside Academy

brightside.jpg By collaborating with its childcare workers’ union to increase wages, benefits, and training, this early education provider reduces staff turnover and improves care for kids.

In Partnership With: American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Collaborating with childcare workers' union lowers turnover and improves care for kids

At a Glance

Brightside Academy is one of the largest providers of early childcare education services for low-income families in Pennsylvania.

Headquarters
Pittsburgh, PA

Website
www.brightsideacademy.com

Industry
Childcare

Union Employees
539 childcare workers

Total Employees
752

Annual Revenues
N/A

Outlets
38 locations

Customers

4,700 children and their
families

Low wages and minimal benefits are a standard problem for workers providing critical services for America’s families—caring for and educating young children and infants in childcare facilities.  Consequently, the industry experiences high turnover among its employees.

Brightside Academy (formerly Allegheny Child Care Academy), one of the largest providers of early childcare education services for low-income families in Pennsylvania, bucked the industry trend by negotiating a contract with its employees’ union to improve pay, benefits, and working conditions.  By focusing on providing the best service to children, management and representatives from the United Child Care Union (UCCU)[1] reached a contract in 1999 that offered a 17.5 percent guaranteed pay raise and provisions such as worker training.

Results were immediate. During the contract’s first year, turnover at Brightside decreased 20 percent. Recognizing the benefit of working with the union, Brightside then partnered with its employees to address staff recruitment, retention, and development concerns.

Taking advantage of existing programs and resources at UCCU’s parent union, Brightside’s labor-management partnership established a program for its employees to earn Child Development Association credentials to further their careers in the childcare industry. The union also works with its members to continue their professional development, which supports Brightside’s participation in Pennsylvania’s high-quality childcare accreditation initiative, Keystone Stars.

Today, a labor-management team meets monthly to deal with issues as they arise.  The company and the union regularly sponsor trainings which bring site directors and union delegates together to facilitate positive communication, problem solving, and team building. The end result is a relationship built on mutual respect and a common goal—quality early care and education services.

When UCCU first obtained union representation for Brightside’s childcare workers in 1999, Brightside operated 14 sites. Since then, the company has expanded to 29 sites in the Philadelphia area, all of which are represented by UCCU.

Selection Criteria

> Free and fair choice to form a union

> Collaborating as equal partners with workers and their unions to craft innovative strategies on compensation, performance, and productivity to meet business goals and address challenges

> Creating new jobs and implementing employee retention strategies

> Providing sustainable wages or progressive increases and worker-friendly benefits

 > Offering training and professional development opportunities

> Contributing positively to the broader community


[1] UCCU is an affiliate of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees 1199C, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.