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Hearing Held On Unionizing Minn. Day Care Workers

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL (WCCO) – Supporters and opponents of unionizing day care workers packed a contentious hearing at the State Capitol Thursday night.

Republican leaders organized the hearings in response to Gov. Mark Dayton saying he’d consider issuing an executive order setting up union elections for Minnesota’s 11,000 in-home day care workers.

Opponents who showed up said a union will change day care in Minnesota as we know it.

“The families come and they interview me as the person who they want to take care of their children,” said Becky Swanson of Dakota County. “Not a corporation. Not a union.”

Many other states do have day care unions.

In Minnesota, a union could negotiate state regulations and reimbursements. Union organizers deny it would raise day care prices.

“I cannot hide that I am angry and frustrated that there are some elected officials who are twisting our movement and using it as a platform to further political agendas, and the media’s fear mongering reports,” said Lisa Thompson, who is leading the unionization effort for AFSCME Council 5.

An irritated Gov. Mark Dayton called the hearing “grandstanding,” calling the Republicans who organized the hearings part-time lawmakers who need to get real jobs so they stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

“Those of them who are so in love with the private sector should to get a job there, and not have to boost up their per diems and their travel with these kind of shows and save the taxpayers that money,” said Dayton.

GOP lawmakers dished it right back, blasting Dayton for not attending.

“I don’t know what this governor is trying to hide, but it’s discouraging,” said Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca).

Republican leaders said Dayton does not have the legal authority to issue an executive order facilitating any union. Such an action, they said, would be illegal and unconstitutional.

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