What started a year ago with one-on-one conversations among workers culminated this month with a 100% certification vote as workers at the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) joined CUPE.

The six members of the AECEO – the professional association for Early Childhood Educators in Ontario – will join CUPE 2484, a composite local representing over 600 early years professionals in Toronto. Organizing alongside the very workers they represent within CUPE 2484 was an important consideration in the unionization drive.

“The AECEO exists to build and support the collective voice of early childhood educators so they can participate in and influence positive change that benefits ECEs and child care workers, children, families, and communities. It mattered to us, while fighting for the pillars of decent work and good care and telling members to strengthen their collective power, that we weren’t doing all of this from the outside. Now, we’re an integral part of it,” explains Jess Tomas, a community organizer with the AECEO and an Early Childhood Educator. “There is tremendous energy right now in the early years sector and with CUPE 2484, in particular. This is an important step, bringing more advocacy power to front line workers, as we look to the future and our fight to organize more child care workers across the province.”

CUPE 2484 is currently engaged in a critical campaign called Raising the Floor, aimed at establishing a baseline of respect and compensation for Toronto’s early years professionals.

“Bringing these workers into the fold is a milestone for our members, expanding the pool of advocacy resources we can draw on during this critical moment,” says Erin Williams, President of CUPE 2484 and an Early Childhood Educator.

“With hundreds of frontline workers, workers from the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, and now the AECEO, CUPE 2484 is the home for child care workers and advocates in Toronto and we’re deploying that power to improve lives.” Senior leadership and the Board of Directors at the AECEO embraced the union drive, a welcome example of a constructive organizing relationship. “This was an overwhelmingly positive process for the AECEO and for workers,” says Alana Powell, AECEO Executive Director. “We have far reaching goals to transform the early childhood sector in this province and ensure every worker, family, and child has what they need to thrive. I believe that our team being a part of CUPE will help achieve those goals.”