Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

The Labor Relations of Love: Workers, Childcare, and the State in 1970s Vancouver, British Columbia

Document type Article
Author Smith, Julia
Author Pasolli, Lisa
Journal Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas
Volume 14
Date 2017
ISSN 1558-1454
Pages 39-60


This article examines the efforts of feminist unions to organize childcare workers in 1970s Vancouver, British Columbia, and highlights the entrenched opposition to union organizing by women considered to be “just babysitters.” These workers’ efforts challenged the “love-versus-money” divide that hampered women’s organizing efforts in the care sector. Vancouver childcare workers, working in alliance with parents, insisted on the public importance of their traditionally private work. In doing so, they connected their fight for better working conditions with the fight for universal childcare. They linked women’s struggles in the workplace to calls for the redistribution of society’s caregiving responsibilities away from families and the market and toward the state. Government intransigence prevented meaningful childcare policy reform, but workers’ efforts highlighted a key moment in Vancouver’s feminist and labor history when the fair treatment of care workers was linked to the liberation of all women.