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The Battle Over Unionizing Home Day Care Providers

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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ST. PAUL(WCCO) — There’s a major push underway to unionize Minnesota’s 11,000 home day care workers.

Backers say the union will result in better care for kids and a level playing field for providers dealing with state regulators. But critics, who rallied at the State Capitol Rotunda Tuesday afternoon, say the unions would lead to much higher costs for parents — in a state that already has the fifth highest day care costs in the country.

In St. Michael, Minn., Hollee Saville’s basement has been decked out for her home day care center. She wants no part of a union.

“I got into this business, I stopped working at a center where I was an employee. I don’t have employees. No one is my boss. I decide my hours, my rates, my policies, holidays and such,” she said.

Saville said in a union, she’d lose that control. She currently charges $150 per child, per month but said she’d have to charge more if she was in a union, because she’d have to pass off the cost of union dues.

“They’d have to go up,” she said. “I can’t afford $180 a year or $900 a year in union dues.”

But in St. Paul, Mary Albert, also a home day care provider, sees it differently. Most of her kids get their day care costs provided by the state because they are low income.

She has to deal with a lot more state regulation and often deals with delays in getting state reimbursements. She thinks a union would help with some of those issues.

“A union would be good for the providers so we have some type of say-so when the lawmakers are making laws,” she said.

Albert charges $155 per month and doesn’t believe she would raise her rates.

“I’ve got low income parents and it wouldn’t make sense for me to say I’m going to raise my prices because I gotta pay union dues, that don’t make sense,” she said.

Gov. Mark Dayton has said he is considering issuing an executive order that would allow day care providers the chance to vote on whether they want to be in a union or not. But republican leaders have a problem with that — they plan to hold hearings on whether the governor can make that executive order.

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