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Union Calls For Child-Care Dollars, Not Amazon Tax Breaks: 'Fund Our Kiddos Not Jeff Bezos'

By Stephen Gossett in News on Nov 1, 2017 8:10PM

Members of the nation's second largest labor union gathered on Wednesday to blast Illinois officials for offering billions of dollars in incentives to Amazon while at the same time cutting state financial support for child care.

Workers with the SEIU Healthcare Union gathered at the Thompson Center and marched to City Hall, where they criticized Gov. Bruce Rauner for a budget that contains a supposed multimillion-dollar cut to the state's Child Care Assistance Program; chastised Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his track record in early-childhood education; and lamented that child care workers in Illinois are often paid minimum wage.

But amidst the cuts and what critics decried as insignificant spending on child care, Chicago and Illinois have reportedly put at least $2 billion in tax breaks and incentives in their joint attempt to lure Amazon's coveted second headquarters to the Chicago area.

"We want to see our leaders investing in child care and education," said Brynn Seibert, director of SEIU's Child Care & Early Learning Division, as workers held signs that read "Fund Our Kiddos Not Jeff Bezos" and "Babies Before Bezos," in reference to the e-retail giant's heavily courted CEO.

Seibert called for the Child Care Assistance Program—which aims to provide low-income families with access to affordable child care—to be expanded and advocated that new public programs that support child care be created.

"Child care shouldn't be something that is only available to families who can afford it. It should be a public good," she said.

Chicago and Illinois submitted its bid to Amazon earlier this month, proposing 10 potential sites in the Chicago area. While the company's promise of 50,000 high-paying jobs has garnered a whopping 238 proposals from across North America, skeptics have cautioned against granting windfall incentives to Amazon, and have also expressed concern that it could also exacerbate housing crises.