Esme’s Blog: Unionizing Day Care Workers

This week I called a dozen different home providers for a story on the effort to unionize day care workers. All of them told me the unionization effort was a bad idea. Many seemed confused about the effort, uncertain of any details of the campaign.

This was obviously not a scientific poll, just a random effort to try and get someone to agree to an on camera interview. Most of these day care providers were women who expressed concern that someone else might now be the boss, that in addition to state regulators and inspectors a union might be calling the shots for their small business. Others said they would raise their prices to pass on the cost of union dues.

Later that day I did find, with the help of AFSCME (the state employee union) a provider who spoke in favor of the union effort. The fourteen children this woman cared for are all low income and their day care costs are state subsidized. Ninety percent of the cost of the family’s day care came directly from the state to her. The program is an effort based on income guidelines to get low-income parents in the workforce. Without this program, these parents would be an even larger drain on state programs as they would not able to earn a living.

But for the day care provider, the state subsidy program is a tangle of bureaucracy and complex regulations. There are often week-long delays between the time the provider cares for the child and when the provider gets the state subsidy check. A case could be made that these day care providers, whose income comes almost exclusively in the form of a paycheck from the state, are state employees.

Should these day care workers be unionized? That is up to them. Put to a vote, I think those dependent on state subsidies would vote yes to a union. But for the day care workers who do not get state subsidies, who are paid directly by parents, the argument for a union appears unconvincing at best.

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  • Michele Sailor

    I do not have enough knowledge about the topic to comment on unionization of home day care settings, however, I do believe that unionizing day care workers would be an excellent idea.
    In my previous position I was a Teacher at a YMCA in St. Paul, and His Kids Child Care Center in Red Wing, even though I have a B.A.,, I never made over $11 an hour. I have sinced moved on to a higher paying position in Education. Child Care workers should earn a higher wage, they are after all, often the first professionals to teach our children.

    • tom

      shut up you liberal

    • leroy

      Spoken like a true union goon.

    • Gregg

      “I do nbot have enough knowledge…” – well said you nailed it in your first 6 words.

  • stung4ever

    “Should these day care workers be unionized? That is up to them. Put to a vote, I think those dependent on state subsidies would vote yes to a union. But for the day care workers who do not get state subsidies, who are paid directly by parents, the argument for a union appears unconvincing at best.”

    Option B: The ones that do want to join, go ahead. The ones that don’t? Leave them alone. No one should have to join a union if they don’t want.

    • Pat

      Pass a RIGHT TO WORK LAW in this state. Forced servitude went out years ago, or so we thought.

  • Jack Anderson

    It is interesting to note, once again, that it appears those who are most union supportive are those who are government dependent. Seems to me that is a prevailing attitude amongst those who continually look to the government for assistance. I know I will be labled in a multitude of “guilt trip” ways, but I do see this as a major symptom of the entitlement mentality that simply is NOT afforable and MUST be addressed.

    • Tom Copeland

      Jack – It’s the parents who need child care assistance so they can work. Parents who receive such assistance are on this program a relatively short period of time (unlike welfare). These child care providers are will to accept less money by caring for these low income families. So, the child care providers are not looking to the government for assistance. They are providing a valuable service and are often low income themselves.

      • louis

        I think Jacks point is that unions are trying to get into bisinesses that get state and/or federal assistance so they can work their majic to take in more dues.

        Funny thing is that the daycare owners did not come up with this idea, the governor did. Why is that?

        • Tom Copeland

          The governor did not come up with this idea. The two unions have gone door to door and signed up thousands of child care providers who want a union. To say that unions want more members to get more dues is like saying businesses want more customers so they can make more money. The question is whether a union can help improve the child care field by raising payment rates for low income parents, and offering benefits to child care providers.

          • louis

            Sure Tom, The Unions and Dayton never talk… Riiiiigth…
            How much money did the unions give him for his election?
            Sounds like you have a union interest as well.

          • Gregg

            The Unions used tactics that are at best misleading. The door knocking campaign got signatures for a mailing list – so they were told. Now it looks like they support the Union. This can not get through without the Unions and Governor are being dishonest.

  • Jim

    It would seem that it is simply a ploy to pad sagging union membership and secure more money from the primary payer (state of Minnesota). The majority of small, home based day care centers do not need the additional cost of union membership and can handle their own financial arrangements with their customers directly. It would most probably result in the demise of many home based businesses or the illegal operation of those businesses to avoid more costs and regulations. If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it.

  • JP2011

    Only a small percent of licensed family child care providers even have a child on the subsidy program. 15% at most. That means 85% of the licensed family child care providers would see no benefit from higher subsidy rates.

    As far as the considering them state employees because they are “paid by the state” that is not possible. There is a statute attatched to the subsidy program that states accepting payments on behalf of low income parents does NOT create an employer/employee relationship.

    So, we’re not paid by the state, we’re not employed by the state, we already have a seat at the table through various advocacy groups including our state associations. We have hundreds of affordable training options each year, we set our own rates, create our own working conditions and negotiate directly with the parents, NOT THE STATE. So, why is this even being considered?

    The saddest part of this story is that out of those 12 providers that were called and did not support the union, I bet at least a couple of them signed union authorization cards after being told to sign up for more information.

    • Corruption

      This push by Dayton is not for the Daycare owners. This is only for the Union to get more dues, and for the Democrats, who benefit most from union support, to get more money.

  • The Crux of the Buscuit

    Union Day Care? Who casres. I’ll bet every european country has unionized day care providers. It seems to me a union should be able to enforce a minimum standard level of care, worker training, things that should help insure a better environment for everyones kids.

    • Shawn

      You should care if you pay taxes. The first thing the union will do is negotiate more money to compensate for the dues they will want.

      • Tom Copeland

        Unions have historically raised the standard of living of millions of Americans – minimum wage, 40 hour work week, etc. The decline in union membership mirrors the decline of the middle class. You decry unions for child care providers without any consideration for the condition of child care providers and low income parents. Providers make very little when caring for low income children. As taxpayers we should care about how all children are being raised. Neglecting preschool children will hurt us all later.

        • Mary

          What? Seriously…
          The county pays very well, and the difference in what the Daycare charges is made up by the parent. That is a healthy model. The providers make the same amount.

          If you care so much about children, then you should be looking elsewhere.

        • Gregg

          Your repeating a myth. Look at the trends and you’ll see the Unions small numbers and influence had no affect on standard of living, work safety, nor better education. But look at nearly any failed program and you’ll usually see a strong Union. And when they are strong enough the Taxpayer gets fleeced for their mistakes. The winners in the Union are not the members but the Union leaders and Politicians they support.

  • harleymanmn

    This is socialism at its most basic, Dayton is in the pockets of the unions especially AFSCME and trying to expand thier reach by mandating membership in thier union. This has to be illegal and should result in Daytons impeachment! The unions cannot add to thier membership on merit alone in the private sector so now they resort to getting it mandated by Dayton, there should be a full investigation into just how corrupted Dayton is by thier influence!

    • Tom Copeland

      You misunderstand. No child care provider can be forced to join a union. A majority of child care providers across the state have already signed cards saying they want to be represented by a union.

      • sue

        Your second sentance is misleading at best, unethical at worst. Since Minnesota is not a right to work state, they will be forced to pay the dues if they join or not.

        Where is the statistic on the majority who signed?

        Are you involved or will profit from this unionization? I seem to remember your name from Daycare conferences.

        • tom Copeland

          Nope, you are wrong. In the 13 other states that have child care unions, no provider has been forced to join a union. AFSCME has signed union cards from more than 50% of the providers in its half of the state. SEIU has almost 50% for their half of the state and has stopped trying to get more cards signed until it’s clear what Dayton will do. So, thousands and thousands of providers have signed cards indicating support for unions. I do not profit from union organizing.

          • Gregg

            Signed not knowing that it wasn’t anymore than a mailing list. Crooked SOBs. Without deceit we won’t be having this discussion. Child care cost will go including the amount charged to the taxpayer – that’s a racket if I’d ever seen one.

  • StraycatStrut

    Unionizing the Daycare Provider probably is not a good idea. The Provider is under enough inspection thru the efforts of the food subsity program and county inspectons already. There is a sense of frustration out there already that they have to line up to a bureaucrat running “their own business” out of the home. A vote on the subject would be good.

  • kudos

    Good article. I think Esme did a good job of looking at both sides. Hopefully it will be put to a vote so providers are not forced into unionization or having dues taken even if they choose not to belong.

    • Sue

      Are you sure they will not have to pay dues? Minnesota is not a right to work state.

  • sid

    Dayton has no business in this. Paying the unions off for their support at the expense of the tax payers is criminal.

    • richard

      To sid and straycatstrut…if you would have investigated before making these uninformed statements, you would have know that the Governor REFUSED to mandate unionization. I’m surprised you did not blame the President also….

      • richard

        Sorry! I meant sid and harleyman.

  • Ginny

    Multiple times Esme has said that this one day care provider charges $150 a MONTH for her services….This must be a mistake, right???…I have never used day care, but I am pretty sure it costs more than that for full time care….

    • Jim

      I believe that she meant that the state then pays the rest, thereby subsidizing the system. That’ was the point of my post – that they want the union instituted so that more money can be dragged out of the state coffers. The state pays the bulk of day care costs for many, many users.

    • Shirley

      I noticed also. Daycare was more than $150.00 per month when I paid it 20 years ago!

  • louis

    This whole push to unionize daycares was not instigated by the daycare owners. It was instigated by the union and governor Dayton.

    This stinks of corruption and fleecing the tax payers of Minnesota…

  • Childcare provider in MN

    I am a childcare provider. I do have 1 child thatbI care for on daycare assistance. The county covers theweekoy cost of my care & the parent is responsible for anything the county doesn’t cover. Unionizing child care, in my opinion, is for somebody looking to make more money. It certainly is not us providers. We are not state employees or government employees. We are our own business that sets our own prices, curriciulum, schedules, meals, etc. Nobody tells us what to charge, teach the children or feed the children. Yes, we hVe rules &regulations to follow in regards to the health and safety of the children. We also have to follow guidelines if we’re on the food program. So what good does it do to unionize an in-home childcare that is an INDEPENDENTLY OWNED BUSINESS!!??

  • Childcare Provider in MO

    Well said Childcare provider in MN!

  • Gregg

    Check out the facts at . We have to stop this intrusion. If not all can vote than it’s a sham. The Governor over stepped his authority and should step down.

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