Dayton Orders Vote On Unionizing Child Care

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 at 6:00 am

On Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton ordered Minnesota’s home-based child care providers to vote on whether to form a state-wide union. The move puts Gov. Dayton squarely in the target of angered Republican lawmakers, who immediately threatened to sue in order to prevent the vote.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union have spent six years trying to organize licensed daycare providers. The prevailing concept is that such in-home providers deserve union representation to bargain over issues such as daycare subsidies, poor families who can’t afford care, and state and local regulations. Dayton has been heavily backed by the unions, but said he would not take sides in the vote. Dayton told the Associated Press that he believes daycare providers should be able to decide the issue for themselves.

“Given there is a dispute among those childcare providers, the fairest way and the American way to resolve that dispute is through an election,” Dayton told reporters at the Capitol.

The governor’s executive order sets a union authorization election for next month, with final results likely to be known by Dec. 21. Republicans vowed to commence immediate legislative hearings on the issue, saying Dayton exceeded his authority, is pushing through the issue too quickly and that unionization of daycare workers would likely result in higher childcare costs for many families.

Union officials said they believe 5,300 licensed providers who receive some type of child-care subsidy from the state, and who together care for about 65,000 children, would be eligible to vote. The state has about 11,000 child-care providers total, but Dayton said those that operate solely on private funds would not take part in the vote and would not be affected no matter its outcome.

The governor also stressed that even if a union is authorized, membership would be voluntary. The election will be conducted by the state Bureau of Mediation Services.

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