Breaking News: Staff Unions Rally Against ELC Outsourcing


Calvin J. Emerson

A pro-union sign, protesting the proposed closure of ELC, at the on-campus rally on November 30th.

EvCC’s staff and faculty members gathered on-campus yesterday evening at the Jackson Center to represent the union known as the “American Federation Of County Municipal Employees” (AFCME) and to rally against the recent decision by EvCC President Daria Willis to close the Early Learning Center. The rally took place alongside a public webinar held by EvCC’s board of trustees, as the union sought to make their voices heard.

Promotional Image for EvCC’s Early Learning Center (EvCC)

It was a packed event, as individuals across Everett took their seats to watch the webinar as a collective. Most were middle-aged parents, teachers, and organizers, spare the many children and the occasional dog. At times, it felt less like a fierce protest and more like a family reunion.

The issue that brought all these people together revolves around the fate of the Early Learning Center (ELC). Dr. Daria Willis, who will be resigning as EvCC’s president by the end of the year, privately announced last week via email that ELC was going to be closed, and that a non-profit youth services organization would lease and replace the program sometime in 2022.

According to the union, this news blindsided those who depend on the learning center. Parents feared the loss of crucial education programs, while employees were sent into panic mode by the presumed loss of their jobs. Even the local union representing the ELC staff, the “Washington Federation Of State Employees” (WSFE), was taken by surprise, as there were no negotiations between EvCC officials and WSFE before the announcement was made.

EvCC President Dr. Daria Willis will be resigning by the end of the year. (Daria Willis)

Further into the letter, President Willis says that they are forming a partnership with the YMCA of Snohomish County, positioning them as the potential replacement. The union has cried foul of this partnership, claiming that they’ll turn ELC into a “limited-service daycare center.” They’ve argued whole-heartedly against the closure, saying that it’s an unnecessary change that will only take away precious programs and paychecks which the EvCC community relies on.

Those in favor of the closure have cited the financial burden of ELC, saying that the program has continually been losing money over the last five years, creating a net loss of $700,000. According to President Willis’s letter, the continued operations of the center have resulted in the siphoning of funds from other college resources. “The College is not in a position to continue to bear the financial liability involved in continuing the program.” she writes.

As the rally went on, the board ended up making decisions in the union’s favor. They’ve paused any implementation of the closure until further negotiations with state officials have occurred. The pause was celebrated by the rally, but WFSE member Stephanie Doyle reminded the crowd that this was only a small victory. “This is just a step. We will continue to fight for you guys.”

This is a developing story, and we’ll continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.