MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gov. Mark Dayton has the power to make a single decision that would divide day care providers across the state.

There is a renewed effort underway to unionize the state’s 11,000 day care centers under the Democratic governor.

The same thing has happened in 13 states, including Iowa and Wisconsin, since 2005.

The idea has got Cyndi Cunningham pretty upset, as she has had to spend her whole summer fighting to make sure her St. Paul home stays non-union.

“I’ve put a lot of work into this,” she said. “We’re small business owners first. Unions are for workers and employees.”

She said she has heard from hundreds of other day care owners who feel the same way. Cunningham believes the biggest problem lies in the process, in which Dayton has the power to sign an executive order at any time to unionize child care centers.

“I think we should be able to have a vote,” Cunningham said. “I’m a self-employed business owner, not an employee of the government.”

A day care owner herself for more than 20 years, Clarissa Johnston sees a partnership with AFSCME’s Child Care Providers Together as a way to have more power in what can be an isolating career.

She said that in a union day care workers would have better access to training, more of a say on regulations and substitute help in case of an emergency.

“I just see it as a model of advancing our profession,” Johnston said. “They offer me alternatives that weren’t available before.”

Katharine Tinucci, an AFSCME spokesperson, said the governor has yet to make a decision. She said Dayton is still gathering information from both sides.

“There’s no hard timeline when a decision will be made,” she said.

It’s a choice that’s bound to be difficult, in the midst of such strong feelings and in the wake of the government shutdown.

There is also a cost concern. Some day care owners believe parents would have to make up for the cost of union dues, but AFSCME said dues still have to be decided on.

Liz Collin

Comments (61)
  1. Rico Suave says:

    Oh great. Just what the economy needs. More unions.

    1. Carl says:

      Oh but the working conditions and hours are terrible in daycares. Havent you heard some parents dont get there until 6pm to pick up their kids! Hopefully the new Union will cut the hours to a maximum of 8 hours per day. So if you drop your kids off at 6am you are going to have to come get them by 2pm – Union rules, sorry!

      1. Wendy says:

        That would be all well and good, but as a provider, I still have other families in care and still would have a long work day. However, I do agree that if your comment were true, it would force some parents to actually be parents, rather than leaving their children in my care and going home to take a nap, go for a drink or what have you.

        1. Angie says:

          Aren’t they paying you to watch their children? It shouldn’t matter if they get home early or run errands. If it is an issue, why haven’t you said something to them. Maybe think about your own actions before criticizing the parents.

          1. Wendy says:

            Dear Angie – MY children were in daycare for three years. We loved their provider! I wanted to be with my kids and was jealous that she got to be with them. When I took time off of work, it was paid and therefore, I kept my children with me and felt the provider deserved the time off from my kids as well. Children learn about life from their parents. Running errands with their parents, etc. If you only knew what I have seen over the last 19 years in childcare. When I get a call from a parent looking for childcare, and they ask what is the earliest time they can drop off and the latest time they can pick up. That is a red flag for me and they can move on. I ask what hours they are looking for and I contract each family according to their needs. I never say that I am open from 6-6 or whatever I might be because then they think they can leave their kids here just because I am open. So, I also charge according to the hours needed and the length of time needed. This prevents a lot of issues. Now, if a parent has the day off, I don’t care. I am fine with their children here as long as they also respect me enough to let me know they are not at work and how to reach them if need be. I also ask that they pick up no later than 4pm. That is not being unreasonable. I have had parents show up drunk when they pick up their kids, I have had parents “forget” to pick up their kids and they could not be reached, they picked up at 7pm when they are supposed to pick up by 4pm, I have had parents try to put me in the middle of their divorce, etc. I have been walked on my many but have learned to say not and not be a doormat any longer. So, please do not tell me to think about my own actions. I am and always have been a very reliable, trustworthy, rule follower, most honest person anyone could be. I have compassion for families as I know we are all trying to make ends meet, however, I don’t need anyone’s money bad enough to put up with someone who takes advantage of me. Oh, and did you know that if a child’s parent shows up drunk then I cannot deny them their child? Ii can suggest that they find someone else to pick up but I have to release their child to them if they insist?? Try being in that situation…pretty sad.

          2. Get Real says:


            You have no clue what you are talking about. My mother did home daycare and most parents should not have had children. DAYCARE is a service provided for while the parents are WORKING….not off doing whatever. You want a babysitter for your fun time then hire one. Kids don’t want to be at daycare longer than they have too either. They want to go home and parents who think otherwise are truly selfish.

      2. Cindy says:

        Providers should be running their own businesses and having policies in place to handle these situations. No union is going to come in and change this. We are “in home” not centers!

  2. James G says:

    Whatever law give the governor unilateral power like that needs to be rescinded. It should be against the law for a government official to wield such power or private business and services. Day care oversight for saftey makes sense, one governor deciding that every day care center in Minnesota should give AFSCME $20 to $100 ever week is extortion. How did this happen and why doesn’t the article report how it is that the governor has such power? Where did it come from and why can’t we change it?

    1. Wendy says:

      Maybe all of the daycares in the state need to close for a day or to and picket. This will make EVERYONE aware!!!!

      1. Provider says:

        If you are picketing to support any AFSCME Child Care Union – well that’s against their Agreement(s) with any State they are in under a Govenor’s Executive Order. That’s right, it’s a Union that does not support striking to make a point.

        Also, if you are looking to join their union so that you can vote as a group of providers on issues regarding your union’s position on rules & regulations, or even their goals, forget it. AFSCME Child Care Unions are “canned organizations” with provider figureheads. Only their Board can vote (about 10-12 people in most unions) and they will vote however AFSCME directs them too.

        AFSCME Child Care Unions are only a SCAM.

    2. Rose says:

      Good point James, how did MN Governor get such power to put “Self Employed” child care providers in a forced union? Isn’t it interesting that the union doesn’t want the real employees of day care centers? Unions are for employees and not self-employed people. Who’s next? What other self-employed business owners will the governor decide that has to belong to the union?

      As far as the union helping to improve child care laws and regulations, they make them worst. Know the facts and read the states child care laws for the states that were forced into this so call union. I’m a strong believer in unions, but this one is a scam.

  3. Mike Wilson says:

    Well, in America, Clarissa Johnston can decide to join a union. Cyndi Cunningham should be able to tell AFSCME to eat it. But given that Dayton will certainly use guns to make Cyndi fork over her money (and then the money of the parents who pay her) to the union, then to the DFL, it’s clear we don’t live in America anymore. Public Unions are enough of a money-laundering scheme (dues, which members are FORCED to pay, go almost exclusively to the DFL). Now we’re forcing private individuals to give money to the DFL? Does anyone at all see a problem here?

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  4. Sue J says:

    More government control! When does it end??

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  5. Matt says:

    I thought AFSCME was a public employees union. Why should daycare providers be forced to join a union for public employees when they are a private business. Is this just a money grab by unions as a way to prop up their declining membership?

  6. Phil Mcrackin says:

    This is wrong on so many levels. The DFL is going to extort money from family’s with young children to further the DFLs cause. This in an outrage. What next unionize teenage babysitters? Give me a break.

    1. Paul says:

      Years ago the teamsters did it to the grocery baggers and my son had to join at 16 while he was in high school. There was absolutely no reason to unionize other than lining the pockets of the unions. A lot of baggers lost jobs when cub and others started bag your grocery stores.

      1. Mike says:

        I beg to differ. I worked in grocery stores with and without unions. The wages and benefits were substantially better in the union stores. Work hour were also more evenly distributed and supervisor discrimination for ‘chosen’ employees was greatly reduced.
        Your son had a choice to pay union dues, and could have found another job if he didn’t want to pay them.

        1. Paul says:

          You miss the point. Bagging grocerys is not a career, its a part time job for kids to make a couple extra dollars after school. The only winner was the unions not the employees. The stores have to raise prices if they pay more to employees for union dues.The stores in order to compete get rid of baggers and allow consumers to bag theri own grocerys.

          1. Real World says:

            Finally common sense!!

          2. Richard in Minneapolis says:

            Who says bagging groceries is not a career, but only a part time job for kids to make a couple of extra dollars after school? (After all, who is doing all the bagging while the kids are in school.)

            In today’s economy, for many people bagging groceries IS a career, and if they are over 50 probably the only one they’ll ever see again.

        2. Elisavet says:

          I voted for a union at Western IL Univ where I taught, as a eouscqnence of a Very Flawed evaluation system which was determining how raises were administered. I knew this from having served on the committee that did the evaluating for a number of years. both at the Department and the College level. It was difficult, complicated, and not really satisfactory. We did our best, as everyone I served with cared very much to try to be as impartial as humanly possible. Besides, it wasn\’t worth having people not speak to you for periods of time, especially when the decisions made were questionable from my perspective.So when the idea of a union was floated to help in obtaining justifiable increases for the professors I began to consider it. Especially since the individual who was fighting for having a union was a very good friend of mine and I respected her intelligence and motives. She was first president for a number of years and I personally thought she did a very good job and was fair in her dealing with that responsibility. She was co-ordinater of the system, and didn\’t make any evaluative decisions herself.One instance of it\’s efficacy was when we began investigating our pay in relation to other similar institutions our size and location (not in a city or urban environment) It was discovered we were substantially below the level of these. Consequently there was a request for a substantial amount of money to remedy this. I thought it a good idea but had my questions until it was learned that the administration had voted themselves a sizable increase in their salaries I want to say something like 18%?? When we were informed there was no money for our raises, finding out about those raises really hit home. I\’m still not sure if I would have gone on strike as we had voted that went against a lot of my beliefs\’, but at the last minute the funds were found, the strike was avoided, and our salaries, which even after the increases, were still not very high, but certainly a definite improvement. OK, I did NOT go into teaching to make money, but it was interesting\’ to find out that my son\’s first job offer after college was higher than what I was being paid after 20+ yrs of teaching. While I know the market governs such things, and I was certainly happy for him, it was nonetheless thought provoking.Of course I retired in \’98 and am not aware of how the union is functioning at Western now, but I can tell you that back when\’, most of us worked hard at what we did because we thought it was right to do so. There will always be people who try to beat the system\’ in any enterprise, organization, etc, but I found very few of them among the teachers at WIU. And felt the union had very little to do with that. They were doing that Before the union was formed. Some I felt maybe shouldn\’t have been teaching, but that was my opinion. Plus, from experience, I think teaching is a rather complicated process.. it\’s Not just a matter of dispensing information. People are involved .A bit surprised that I\’m even responding to this, but just out of a whim today I decided to check out your website as I hadn\’t for a long time. Saw the article, which pushed buttons All over the place.. hence this comment.Hope you all are doing well there. I didn\’t send any cards this past holiday season. Still trying to decide whether to write some kind of New Years card.Oh, pardon anyone else who might read this. I happen to be admin\’s Dad\’s brother.Very best to you all Hope my two cents worth\’ makes a little sense??

  7. Mike says:

    Should a union step into the mix, no one is forced to be in one. Find a job that doesn’t have one and work for less money, benefits and an uneven playing field. It’s your choice.

    1. Eric says:

      So if you have been doing a job for 20-30 years and a Union decides to step in when no one wants it your supposed to drop everythind and just start over. I am sure no one has the kind of money banked up to be able to afford that kind of change which really means they have no choice unless they are willing to give up thier current way of life.

    2. Happy to be Union-free says:

      Sorry, Mike, but this isn’t the case. In states with unionization of child care providers, providers are FORCED to pay union dues and fair share fees, even if they aren’t members. In Illinois, they pay $300-$900 per year! The unions have no business in family child care as we’re not employees. If I don’t like my hours, I have the right to change them. Same with pay. If someone wants to INDIVIDUALLY join the union, fine, but they can’t and shouldn’t force us all to join!
      The unions (AFSCME and SEIU have split the state into roughly north and south for their areas) are working with maybe 30% of the providers in the state to get the Governor to sign the order. Of those 30% the majority were duped into signing the cards by claims it was for more information, health insurance, etc. Btw, Calista and all the other union organizers going door to door are PAID very well by the unions to do so ($65,000, $74,000, and more…the unions even pay for substitutes to run their childcares so they can claim they’re licensed providers to others). It’s been a duplicitous process and the unions should be ashamed. Our government should be ashamed for ever using UNCONSTITUTIONAL Executive Orders.
      It should be noted that licensed family child care providers already have local, state (MLFCCA, Child Care Works, Adults & Children’s Alliance, Child Care Choices, CCR&R, MNSACA, MnAEYC, etc.), and national (NAFCC, NAEYC, etc.) to represent our SPECIFIC needs and concerns, not using our dues to pay political candidates!

      1. Sally says:

        Happy to be Union-Free, you should know that the national NAFCC, NAEYC and NACCRRA/Child Care Aware besides your local referral agencies are behind the union. Sadly I found this when they wouldn’t help us fight for a better child care Bill in Kansas. Read NAFCC’s Union Statement, they support the union speaking to your State Reps on your behalf.

        In other words taking away your right to speak for yourself and your business on how your state laws will be change by the union. Why, because AFSCME will give these agencies money, (of course after they get their cut) for some training and grants for a few providers and day care centers who won’t be in the union. NAFCC and NACCRRA/Child Care Aware are paying lobbyists to encourage MN Governor to sign this Executive Order.

        If the union really felt they could win, than why don’t they let the providers have the right to vote like every company offers to their employees?

    3. Freedom of Choice says:

      It’s your choice to go to school and find a career that pay’s better, rather then having union thugs strong arming businesses into overpaying for jobs that shouldn’t and can’t pay what you demand. Yes, many people are forced and bullied into being in a union. Now it appears union dues that are left over from the head union thugs have been used to buy their way into the governorship and potentially forcing more people into unions. If. Dayton does follow through that is totally criminal!!!!!!!!

    4. GN says:

      Yup Mike, The DMV title division is fully unionized, three months to get a title back, costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue from title turnover, millions in economic loss to businesses and individuals. Lazy, inefficient, and a burden on society — I assume you are a government employee that is unionized????

    5. Provider says:

      Ah Mike, apparently you are not very well read on AFSCME Child Care Unions. While yes, a provider doesn’t have to join – they may be charged Service Fees (such as taking a percentage off of their subsidy checks “due to the efforts of the union to negotiate better rates”).

      They may also be EXEMPT from many, many grant programs (for education or equipment) because of their non-union status. The grant money is NOT union money but FEDERAL FUNDS (i.e. provider, parents, puplic’s tax dollars) that the Union ADMINISTERS (with quite a hefty administration fee) which is something we don’t need a union for – it’s something our State Referral Agencies have always done (without membership dues).

      AFSCME is also notoriious for not taking “no” for an answer. They will REPEATEDLY knock at doors of providers’ – very often at peak duty times such as meals or naptime. Distracting providers from overseeing/caring for children, pestering the provider to at least sign a “I’m interested in receiving more info” card and then PASSING that signature off to a Govenor as MEMBERSHIP.

      Scam, scam, scam.

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  8. Jen says:

    Daycare is already incredibly expensive in this state (I recently read that it’s the highest cost in the nation). This would make it prohibitive. I already work full-time, albeit in education, and can only afford to send my 2 kids part time. I would have to quit my job. That would be great for the economy.

    1. Jack says:

      They don’t care, this is demacratic payback to the unions. Thousands of mothers are receiving state money to pay for daycare. This increase in cost is paid for by taxpayers. WHAT A SCAM.

    2. Richard in Minneapolis says:

      In today’s economy there are a dozen people ready to step into your job tomorrow. Net difference to the economy: Zero.

      1. Jack says:

        Are you for real, people are paid by the value of the work not by what they think they need. This is the kind of union misguilded thinking that is bad for company, for the employee, and bad for the country.

  9. Perry says:

    Dayton is a bad governor..

    1. Happy to be Union-Free says:

      Thank you, Captain Obvious! You are right, Perry!

  10. KEVIN says:


    1. Tar and Feather the Gov! says:

      Can we tar and feather him?!! I would be first to do so!!

    2. Freedom of Choice says:

      Amen Kevin. It’s looking like more and more these days that’s what we will have to do.

  11. I'm Just Sayin' says:

    I thought joining a union was an option that at least you get to vote on it? In this case if you are a 20 year day care owner or professional, you have no choice, the governor signs the order and you are not only in a union, but obligated to pay union dues or change your career. So governor, it is decision time; are you going to pay back the unions for all of the anti emmer adds or are you going to protect middle class workign Minnesotans?

  12. for real people says:

    This is unbeleavable, what a freaking joke. How in the world can the gov have the authority to do this. Holy buckets never saw this one coming.

  13. Cindy says:

    The request is to not have Gov Dayton sign an executive order but give us a right to private vote as to whether we should have a union or not. Clarissa J. is a childcare provider but she is also paid by Ramsey County DHS through CCPT/AFSCME as a Community Liason. There are aprox 5 providers in this position being paid with our tax dollars already (aprox $50,000 over 2 years!). The unions (and Clarissa) promise ideas that are not possible (such as paid substitutes and vacation).

    Please contact Governor Dayton’s office and let him know what you think!

  14. mll says:

    The government should not have the ability to force the private sector to unionize. That is just absolutely beyond the power any government in the United States should have. Unions are a joke. My husband refuses to join the union at his place of employment, but he is still FORCED to pay partial dues. And he works in the public sector which shouldn’t be unionized in the first place.

  15. Guess what says:

    For all the anti-Union people out there; remember a little of history. African slavery, child labor, (like in coal mines), the 40 hour week, overtime, weekends off, paid vacations. Study the role of labor unions and the progress we have made over the last few hundred years and whether we are willing to have ten year olds work for 50 cents an hour instead of mandatory school (Republicans are succeeding in convincing us into accepting that education, health care, and the general aspects of modern human relations are subject to a privilege and not a Human Right). We are heading ass-backwards to Feudalism and singing religious praises along the way.

    1. Cindy says:

      We are not anti-union. We are against the Governor establishing a union and as a small business owner it doesn’t fit! I don’t want to live back to when there weren’t unions but this doesn’t fit. It is not anti-union, it is anti-government parterning to establish the union. We want a vote.

    2. Happy to be Union-Free says:

      Guess what? Your history is incredibly flawed. The unions had NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING to do with the abolition of slavery and politicians (who weren’t lobbied by unions), teachers, and parents successfully created Child Labor Laws. Yes, back in the late 19th and early 20th centuires, labor unions helped improve working conditions, but people do have a choice where they want to work. Not everyone enjoys these benefits supposedly derived from the unions. Have YOU studied the role of labor unions, “The Jungle,” and other facets of the industrial age and working conditions? It certainly doesn’t sound like it, from my myriad courses I took on these subjects and my B.A. in History! Republicans and conservatives have never said education is a privilege, only that it should be controlled BY EACH INDIVIDUAL STATE, as explicitly stated in the Constitution. The same goes for their opposition to mandated health care. Conservatives are simply pointing out that individuals, NOT THE GOVERNMENT, are the best to determine education, health care, and financial needs. You might want to do some reading about feudalism, too, as we are so very far from it! No one is tied to the land without any hope of escaping the “free slavery” of feudalism. People are free to work for whomever they want and decide whether or not the working conditions suit them. UNIONS are the ones preventing Minnesotans from being able to work for whom they choose, as Minnesota is, unfortunately, NOT a Right to Work state. If people want to join a union, fine, but I shouldn’t be forced to do so based on their decision. In the case of licensed family child care providers, they should at least allow a secret ballot vote, if they consider it at all.

      Please note the irony in the fact the SEIU and AFSCME represent county licensing workers and social workers. How would they be representing us and them in discussions and hearings to modify Rule 2? Jumping from side to side, perhaps? Wonderful changes have been made to the statutes and such by individuals and advocates, all without the help and expense of unions.

      1. GN says:

        Well said, Thank you.

        1. Happy to be Union-Free says:

          You’re welcome, GN, but you can thank history and the truth as that;s all the comprised my response. 🙂

        2. Hossam says:

          The credit union is the best. no drgeey bankers! my credit union is great, if i have a question about money or credit or budgeting there is someone to help me. they also have things where they teach u how to use credit and buy a home or car. there r also no heavy fees!! infact i have days before they charge fees if u overdraw ur acct.

    3. Provider says:

      It’s not a matter of being “anti-Union” it is a matter about being “anti-SCAM-Union”. These Unions don’t provide their members ANTYTHING that providers don’t already have!

      They are a money suck. They are scam organizations.

  16. Jean Lang Hayes says:

    I have been a child care provider for 26 years, and I have done great without the help of a union…. I got my CDA, a 4 star rating from Parent Aware, and became nationally accredited through NAFCC the beginning of August. All this without the help of a union.

    For some one to write iin the article above that being a part of a union would give providers better access to training, is living in a dream world. You are responsible for your own training and finding sources for these trainings. As of January, I have 45 hours of training, with more scheduled for the year. Again, wow for some reason, I was able to do this all on my own – without the help of a union…

    As a small business owner, I run my child care the way that works for me and my families. I have licensing to make sure everything is always in order, I don’t need a union to come in and charge me dues. Which I feel is the only reason there is a push for this. 11,000 providers. What a great untapped source of income…. Unions have no place in a child care setting!.

    1. Provider says:

      Ms. Hayes,

      Watch out, NAFCC is in partnership with AFSCME – they fully $upport the unionization of providers. Lots of kick backs. AFSCME has promised them that they will push rules & regulations that call for providers to be in accreditation programs (many states those providers might be EXEMPT from State visits). ‘

      Heck, in my state, I just signed a new Food Program Contract that says I will accepat anyone with a photo id as an inspector for the Food Program. Of course, based on what I’ve read about these unions – this will most likely be UNION MEMBERS (even other providers that the union trains to do the inspections).

      AFSCME child care unions have gotten into SRS subsidies and are setting up to hit the Federal Food Program money next.

  17. Wendy says:

    NOT LOOKING TO JOIN ANY UNION WHAT SO EVER – I am talking about picketing AGAINST the union and Gov Dayton

  18. cyndi says:

    Focus….this is about a Government elected official ESTABLISHING a union. This is not about providers making a decision. The unions are stating this was an election agreement between them and the Governor elect. There is no process or protection for us under labor law if this goes through. The unions are turned loose. Any action the unions have done in this area is outside of any “traditional” union process.

  19. Phill says:

    Daycare owners:

    DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING THE UNION GOONS ASK YOU TO SIGN. They are passing off any signature you give them as support for the union. Even if you say you only want more information.

    All the signatures received need to be validated to make sure the Daycare owner was indicating support for a union.


  20. Bittu says:

    Hi Bert,I know this is Helen’s blog, but I did want to clear one thing up. I agree that teachers slhouder too much of the blame, especially when they work hard to inspire and motivate their students. I know there are a lot of hard-working teachers in the government-funded school system. I know that some are conservative. The problem is that teachers are working within a system that is flawed, especially when you compare it to home education. If you are interested in specifics, please come to my blog and contribute your thoughts.I also find that there are problems that are mostly beyond individual teachers’ control. Nevertheless, parents are taking their kids out of the school system to avoid those problems. My concern is that the NEA and other unions will use their power to remove the alternatives that homeschoolers have worked so hard to put in place. Regardless of where children are educated, the consensus seems to be that parents have to be involved in most cases for education to be successful. Unfortunately, this is a minority, and this is where the government-funded school systems struggle the most. Home education doesn’t suffer the same problem, because, for the most part, parents are the ones doing the educating. Some do it better than others, but home educated students on average placed in the high 80’s and low 90’s of the government school student average. They’re winning national spelling bees and science fairs. They’re blowing the doors off the government school system and the teachers unions know it. Parents are also waking up to this fact, and some are making the lifestyle changes like we did to give our children a better shot at the future. Steve