Battle brewing over child care provider unionization

5:11 PM, Dec 4, 2011   |    comments
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SAINT PAUL, Minn. - There's a battle brewing between one group of child care providers and Governor Mark Dayton.

The group is opposing the governor's executive order for a vote on whether to unionize certain home-based providers.

The group called Childcare Freedom held a rally in the State Capitol Rotunda on Saturday.

Child care provider Holly Saville said to the crowd, "This is not an anti-union rally.  This is a child care freedom rally!"

She continued, "We do not need a union.  We are independent, self-employed, small business owners."

Dayton's executive order calls for a unionization vote among in-home child care providers who get state subsidies to care for children from low income families.  Of the approximately 11,000 providers in the state, only about 4,300 get those subsidies and get a vote.

That upsets the child care providers holding the rally today.  They, along with some Senate lawmakers, call the execute order illegal so they are suing to have the vote stopped.   Saville is one of the plaintiffs.

She says a union could cause rates to increase and it could change regulations.

Saville said, "We do not need another organization to influence regulation."

But at AFSCME headquarters in South Saint Paul, in-home child care providers in favor of unionizing were on the phones Saturday calling others eligible to vote to answer any questions they may have.

They say getting collective bargaining could make in-home child care more affordable and accessible for low income families.  Right now they say subsidies have been cut.

Lisa Thompson, a child care provider from Saint Paul, said, "Parents are facing a 2.5% cut in their subsidy rates.  And so that's either going to have to cause families to pay 2.5% more for their care or providers are going to have to charge 2.5% less to those families and to the other families because we have to be fair."

AFSCME and pro-union child care providers say no one will be forced to join the union or pay dues, but any child care provider, even if they don't get subsidies, will be able to join.  And they believe Dayton's executive order is legal.

Jennifer Munt, spokesperson for AFSCME, said, "There are 13 states where governors, through executive order, have recognized the right of providers to collectively bargain with the state.  Within those states what's happened is we have successfully gotten stronger subsidies for parents."

A Ramsey County district judge will hear arguments on Monday on the legality of Governor Dayton's executive order.

Meantime, ballots on whether to unionize will be in eligible child care providers' mailboxes this week.  Votes are scheduled to be tallied on December 22nd.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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