Judge Blocks Child Care Union Vote

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Ramsey County judge delivered a setback to union organizers and a rebuke to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday by halting a pending election seeking to unionize thousands of Minnesota child care workers.

In issuing a temporary restraining order, Judge Dale Lindman said the unionization issue should have gone through the Legislature rather than Dayton’s approach of calling the vote through an executive order.

“If unionization of day care is to become the law of Minnesota, it must first be submitted to the lawmaking body of the state,” Lindman said after hearing three hours of arguments from a bank of attorneys. His order remains in effect at least until another court hearing on Jan. 16.

Opponents of the union drive argued that Dayton governor exceeded his powers and designed an election that would have prevented many providers from weighing in. Their attorney, Tom Revnew, told the judge that nothing in state law “directs small business owners or employers to engage in an election. It’s simply not there.”

Lindman said he was “bothered” that less than half of the state’s 11,000 in-home child care workers were eligible to vote. Eligibility was extended to about 4,300 providers who are currently licensed to receive state subsidies to care for low-income children.

Ballots had been printed and ready to go out by mail this week. But the ruling effectively stalls the union push. And organizers predicted it would be hard to succeed in making their case before a Republican-controlled Legislature.

Dayton said in a statement from his office that he respected the court’s decision. He said he asked to meet with Attorney General Lori Swanson in order to determine his next steps.

“I continue to believe that in a democracy, people should have rights to elections to determine their own destinies,” Dayton said.

Solicitor General Alan Gilbert argued in court that Dayton was within his jurisdiction because the proposed union wouldn’t be able to reach any binding agreements with the administration. Anything the sides wanted to enact ultimately would have required legislative approval.

Two Minnesota unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union, had been seeking the union vote for several years. Proponents argued that providers who operate in part on state subsidies had the right to organize and discuss with state agencies over subsidy rates as well as other rules and regulations governing in-home care. They said a union would strengthen the voice of child care workers at the Capitol.

But critics said many providers ineligible to participate in the vote would still be affected by many of the matters that would have bargained between a child care workers union and the state. The plaintiffs were a group of child care providers, with assistance from a coalition of conservative-leaning groups.

Becky Swanson of Lakeville, a plaintiff and a child care provider for more than 18 years, was elated by the ruling. Swanson said she usually cares for about 10 children in her home but wouldn’t have been eligible to vote because she hasn’t had a subsidized child in the past year. She said she didn’t see any benefit in a union.

“What is the union going to do for me?” Swanson asked. “Are they going to change my work environment? It’s my home.”

While the ruling pushed the issue into the hands of lawmakers, it’s unlikely Republicans who currently control the state House and Senate would oblige the unionization drive. Multiple legislative leaders criticized Dayton for ordering the union vote, and lawyers for the Republican Senate majority even filed a brief supporting the lawsuit.

Jennifer Munt, spokeswoman for AFSCME’s Minnesota chapter, said she doubted supporters would take their case to the Legislature, saying it would likely be futile.

“The legislators who claim to be their voice are the same legislators who gave them a pay cut,” Munt said. “They are the same legislators who are ignoring the parents who need subsidies for child care in order to go to work. And they’re the same legislators who cut quality improvement grants for child care providers.”

Carol Nieters, executive director of the involved SEIU unit, said the lawsuit had “succeeded in throwing a wrench into the wheels of democracy.”

Ballots would have been tallied on Dec. 22. The goal was to have a union in place before the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 24.

State Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said the ruling could extend beyond the child care issue because Dayton hasn’t been shy about using executive orders to shortcut the Legislature.

“I’ve had some people say to me, ‘If the governor is able to do this, what else could he do,'” Hann said. “I think this has some broader implications.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Joe Hanson

    “Only a fraction of the 11,000 in-home providers are being allowed to vote on unionization.”

    Well that doesn’t sound very democratic.

    • Joe Hanson

      ‘The judge said only allowing 4,300 daycare providers to vote on union instead of all 11,000 in the state was “very harmful to all of the parties involved.”’

      The Judge must have read my earlier comment…

  • S Walker

    Recall Dayton!

  • Oh my God!!!

    The previous responses just show the reactive, nutso responses to a union vote. If its voted down it does not pass, otherwise it does. Stop using scare tactics to try to affect this vote. Maybe you should watch something other than Fox News to get your information.

    I am sick and tired of advising my mother that dogs are not going to replace servicemen in getting psychiatric care(the latest) $600 toilet seats etc etc etc.
    Check online to find out who is lying…

    • Evil2hope

      Why is it so hard to understand that this Union is just looking to siphon more money from the general economy and silent dissidents as they were looking to vote with less than half of the individuals being affected. I suppose not until everyone’s every waking moment is regulated Liberals won’t be happy. God forbid I think for myself!

      • Chris

        Right… it is not just coincidence that the union pusing for this is the State Employee Union!
        Not only are they looking to get their hooks in, but this would allow the State to have even more control!
        And this is for in-home daycare providers too, who are the prime example of independent, small companies… if they cannot operate independently, who can???

    • mll

      I agree this comment adds nothing to the discussion and doesn’t even make sense.
      How can you create a union for which there is no actual employer? Unions are a joke. They may have meant something back in the day before there were laws put in place to protect employees, but today they serve no vital function other than to drive up costs and make ridiculous requests.

    • Tom

      @ Oh my god!

      Yes the nutty conservatives are at again. Isn’t it funny how they want a vote on lets say gay marriage, etc, but when it comes to letting people vote up or down on something like this they are totally againest it. They have different definition of the word FREEDOM than the rest of us.

      • stung4ever

        Tom, a better example would be Republicans saying for there to be a vote on gay marriage, but only allowing straight people to vote.

      • dan


        Dont you think it would be a good idea to let all 11,000 providers vote rather than just the 4300 that are currently subsidized? That’s like letting only the gays vote on marriage being allowed in MN.
        Try to think before you speak.

      • tjs

        To me by not allowing all of us daycare providers to vote up or down its like having a referendum on a Vikings stadium, but only those in favor get to vote

    • Stop cursing

      Ramble, ramble, ramble. This added nothing to the discussion. People should always be concerned when the power of government is being expanded at will. The funny thing about unions is that they rely on government intervention to compel people to do stuff. Employees like day care providers always have the right to lobby the government for whatever they want, just like employees always have the power to leave jobs that don’t pay enough.

      Union rules forced by the government limit private sector companies from making business decisions, which eventually causes them to move jobs overseas to be competitive in a global economy. Here, private businesses and their clients would be forced to stay here AND live under the union.

    • Brian

      Ever wonder why the media is liberal. Might it be that the facts force them to be?? Just keep drinking that rebuplican TEA!! Moron!!

      • UnionMan

        Brian, why does not the government buy Wal-mart and make all employees public government union workers with great pay and life time pensions?
        You would support hat idea right?

  • kevin

    Oh my god, Maybe a good commie like you should move to China where communisim is alive and well.

    • ilky

      They’re economy is in good shape. Probably isn’t as bad as our government/media make it out to be.

  • Ron

    I bet the judge is a REPUBLICAN !

    • ilky

      OMG, save it.

      • Tato

        Ron, clearly you missed the point. Government has no business forcing its people into unions! Particularly, where there are no employees!!!!

  • Missy Double-u

    As a childcare provider, this scares me. I am in the 4,300 that was going to be allowed to vote, but i would have voted no. We are small business owners and are already overseen by multiple authorities to ensure we are caring for the children in the best and safest way possible. These people were not looking to help put anything in place for higher quality of care, they only wanted a check on the backs of hard working providers. We do not need this, as providers and parents, we should all be working to make sure this doesn’t happen. It will do nothing but make childcare even more expensive

    • Kim

      This is exactly true! As a 20 year Child Care Provider, I can’t see a single thing a union would do for me. If they let us all vote, they would lose!

    • Chuck

      @ Missy, You are 100% correct and thanks for saying it so well!

  • Al Schwarting

    Hey Missy, think about this…..how is your medical insurance coming along? Paying allittle bit for it? If you were to join AFSCME you could be included in the state medical plan and get AFFORDABLE medical insurance. There are benefits in being in a union. There are also federal laws that will protect you if you do not wish to join. There are to many people spewing garbage on here that have no idea what they are talking about. Talk to the unions BEFORE you vote and see what benefits they can help you with THEN make a inteligent decision. Don’t listen to the Republican anti-union goofs on here.

    • Heather

      Hey Al,
      there will be no add us to the state insurance plan!! the EO, the state law, the childcare providers and the unions have ALL stated we will not be considered state enployees, which means NO State Funded benifits!!!!! Only 3 states that have unionized childcare providers have gotten a sham of an insurance plan that has a childcare provider jumping through more hoops than MN care. Maybe YOU should do a little research and make an informed comment, instead of spewing union redorick , you think the union is going to be up front about anything??? The only benifit the union can give childcare providers is the huge lobbying power thour dues pay for at the state.
      I was one who got to vote and I say NO, it doesn’t make business sense for me to join. I am the Business OWNER, self-employed period the end there is no oppressive force on my business. My working conditions are my home and they are safe and loving. My wage set by me, vactions I take, cost of living increases in my contract. PS I am a democrat and I love unions but they have their place, just not in my private business.

    • jm

      Hey Al. your’e right. Missy won’t have to join the union. She will just be listed as a SCAB daycare provider. You are the goof.

    • Tracy Brossart Stengel

      Hey Al, those of us who are smart educated business women and men know how to get medical! (By the way anyone can get medical) Smart business women and men would price out health insurance and then add it into the cost of running our business to make it “affordable” to what we need. Just like when I purchase a curriculum or a toy or a necessity for my business and I make sure it fits into my budget and as well making my rates affordable to my families. If one knows how to run a business this is really how it works. Also just to make sure you understand it is all not that cut and dried. My husbands medical is what I am under as of now. If I am offered other medical my medical through him will go up $70-$100/ month. My medical is extremely good and I do have a disease that is difficult to be picked up on other medical if we were to change. Therefore this could leave me with more costs or no insurance with a medical condition that I have procedures and dr visits every 2 months! But don’t worry if it all goes off like the Dayton, Afsme and SEIU secret plan I don’t get a vote because apparently and Ironicly enough the same people saying providers should have a voice want to take mine away??????????

  • See BS

    It’s about time we see a Judge in the State of Minnesota reading the Constitution.

  • Sherry

    Kevin,Missy,I agree 100%

  • T

    I bet the two unions fighting to get at the daycare providers are doing it soley for the good of the providers. Same thing with that car salesman trying to talk to me on the lot. He is just concerned for me and my transportation that’s all.

    • Actionjackson

      Now that’s funny and good… and Kevin,Missy,I agree 100%

  • Vince

    Just like Obama, Dayton tried to bypass the congress to shove through his agenda. The governor and president are not kings, we have a system that provides for the proper way to do things and this is an example of how not to do it.

  • carl

    for one if we are going to unionize day care its should be voted by everybody bc if it isnt then its not our choice it is our freedom to vote for what we want as people of the united states of america and another we dont stop to think about if day care is unionized it will put more people out of work bc they wont beable to affored the new prices per child especially those with children that has disabilities like down syndrome or add, adhd etc. and those who have in home day care wont beable to stay in with out getting in with the union so there for they will be forced out of work if you want to get people off the streets you should really think whats best for them instead of trying to control everything that we do ourself it is our right as americans to have a choice

  • CJ

    Good news, judge rules for the over 7,000 child care providers that governor Dayton thought didn’t deserve a vote. Wow we do live in a democracy.

  • Kevin

    Dayton sucks! Unions suck!

  • Jake

    Truly amazing….. A judge in St. Paul who has a BACKBONE *and* a BRAIN, who understands the proper roles of our three branches of government. I didn’t think that they existed there anymore. If so many daycare workers truly wanted a gov’t union representing them, the gov wouldn’t feel the ‘need’ to MANDATE a vote by proxy for only a minority of them. Pass a ‘Right to Work’ law in this state, then I’ll consider changing my opinion. Name a single example of where a governor sticks his big nose into the PRIVATE sector to force a unionization vote. Just because daycare workers are licensed by the state doesn’t mean that they work FOR the state.

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