ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A group of child care workers backed by a coalition of conservative-leaning groups filed a lawsuit Monday aimed at blocking a unionization election for some home-based providers.

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs, 11 in-home day care providers, are asking a Ramsey County court to declare the election “null and void.” Named as defendants are Gov. Mark Dayton, who ordered the election, and Josh Tilsen, commissioner of the state’s Bureau of Mediation Services, which he ordered to conduct it. Ballots are scheduled to be mailed out next week and tallied by Dec. 22.

About 4,300 Minnesota child care providers currently licensed to receive state child care subsidies for low-income children are eligible to vote in the election, leaving about 6,700 providers ineligible. Critics of the unionization effort believe that even the ineligible providers, or those who decline to join the voluntary union, still would be affected by subsidy rates and policies bargained between the union and the state.

“We believe the issues the unions discuss will impact, either directly or indirectly, all child care providers in Minnesota,” said Tom Revnew, attorney for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit contains two core arguments: that Dayton lacks the authority under state law to order a union election because most of those voting are business owners, not employees; and that providers not eligible to vote in the election would experience a violation of their constitutional right of equal protection under the law.

“The debate around unionization of family childcare providers started years before Governor Dayton was elected to office,” Dayton’s spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci, said in a statement. “By refusing to call for an election, his predecessors denied licensed, registered family child care providers the chance to decide for themselves whether or not they want to form a union.”

Dayton’s administration previously defended itself against the suggestion that non-union child care providers would be left without a voice if a union is formed. Major changes to child care policy or subsidy rates still would require legislative votes, the administration argued, saying the legislative process would remain open to all participants.

“Matters which impact all licensed family care providers could be discussed with the exclusive representative as well as any provider, citizen or interested organizations,” Dayton’s commissioner of human services, Lucinda Jesson, wrote last week in a letter to a Republican lawmaker.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union organized the unionization drive, saying child care providers deserve union representation to bargain over issues ranging from subsidy rates to state and local regulations.

Jennifer Munt, an AFSCME spokeswoman, called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said Dayton invoked proper legal authority in ordering the election.

Dayton, a Democrat, has said he would not take sides in the election, but he’s been a strong ally to unions throughout his political career. Revnew would not reveal who specifically is funding the lawsuit, but it was publicized by a group calling itself Childcare Freedom, a coalition of conservative-leaning groups that includes Minnesota Majority, the Minnesota Family Council, the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, Education Liberty Watch and the Minnesota Free Market Institute.

“This is just fundamentally wrong. We’re interested in challenging government overreach,” said Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, which has previously pushed for stronger voter identification measures, lobbied for a constitutional gay marriage ban and run an ad campaign criticizing Dayton’s push earlier this year for an income tax hike on the wealthy.

McGrath said his group was contributing financially to the lawsuit.

Also Monday, majority Republicans in the state Senate announced that the Senate Rules Committee would hold a hearing Thursday morning to discuss Dayton’s executive order. Previously, several Republican committee chairmen had threatened their own lawsuit to block Dayton’s orders but so far have not filed one.

Hollie Saville, a plaintiff who owns a child care business in St. Michael, said she was alarmed to see the dispute take on political connotations. “This is not a partisan thing. I don’t care what letter you have after your name,” she said. Plaintiffs teamed up with conservative groups, Saville said, “because they were willing to help.”

Another plaintiff, Lakeville child care provider Becky Swanson, said it’s been 14 months since she last cared for a child who got a state subsidy — making her ineligible for the union vote. But she said she would be against the effort even if she could vote.

“Right now, I’m at the bargaining table,” Swanson said. “I have relationships with my legislators, I can speak to who I need to about legislation. What role would the union play in that scenario? If I have an issue with licensing, will I have to go through the union to do it? There are all these unknowns.”

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

Comments (51)
  1. jimmy says:

    More taxpayer money wasted by the right wing. This will be dismissed.

    1. clueless says:

      Not too bright are ya Jimmy?

    2. peace says:

      Money waited by the right wing? Really?? The money wated will be the Left if they push this through.

    3. Chris says:

      @jimmy… what part of this don’t you understand?
      The right needs to waste their own money to stop this out of control liberal Dayton… He has no business pushing this agenda!

      1. Mike says:

        @Chris, The courts will decide if this is legal and when it is proven that it is, will all the whiny Republican and ball titialating Tea Baggers can put their passifiers back in and go away.

        1. Citizen says:

          @Mike. Doubtful that the whiny teabaggers will go away. They will find something in the judicial decision, should their position lose, that they can whine about and whine about the ideology behind that decision. If you have read a lot of CONservative comments, they seem to hate due process and the judicial branch of the government–unless, of course, it is in their favor and is used to do their bidding.

    4. g8bbgg says:

      Hey stupid forced unionization is called communism. If you think this is ok please move to Cuba, China, Vietnam, North Korea…. Just jet the hell out of the free, FREE world with your DFL-Education MN ideals.

    5. Zing says:

      If people are not allowed to organize fight for better conditions then we will all be working like Chinese factory employees except with worse healthcare I imagine. Because of unions we have the weekend, 40 hour weeks and a middle class. Unions are the balance to the power of big business. You need both and you need to compromise instead of acting like moronic little children.

      1. g8bbgg says:

        Then if they want join, do not mandate it ya commie

      2. no-longer-a-union-supporter says:

        ooooohhhhhhh name calling, why does pro-union support come off as ignorant bullies ? name calling threatening verbage yep, agree or we’ll get you….

  2. Lucifer says:

    Dayton is such a pathetic tool. He is just following orders from George Soros and doesn’t give a damb about laws and procedures. Liberalism needs to be removed from Minnesota politics.

  3. Kevin says:

    Dayton sucks….and unions suck…..sue baby sue!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let the majority rule!!!!

    1. Citizen says:

      @Kevin. If you are so sure the majority will rule, then why are you against a vote? If you are so sure of your position, then a vote by the day care providers to turn down a union will vindicate your position. The problem is, you conservatives are afraid these people will do want a union so your ideological rants against unions will be moot. You are afraid of the peoples’ vote.

      1. Kevin says:

        I want a REAL vote of all porviders. Not the 4000 that suck off the tax payers! Govt unions are a joke! I have worked with unions, and they are worthless. If your a fat, lazy pos…your job is safe….and you will be promoted! Have all 13,000 + providers vote. I know several, and the majority will rule! Now will a castarated liberal moron please tell me how its a govt issue to push for unions in the private sector???? Ill just sit back and reload while you go blah blah blah…..

      2. Lucifer says:

        The rules of the vote are corrupt Citizen. A fair vote would allow ALL daycare providers in the state vote on this issue since it WILL effect their business and future earnings. In fact, a fair vote would allow all Minnesotans that have, or ever will have, children to vote because they too will be effected by higher child care costs.

        Give the vote to ALL childcare workers. I wiould bet my left nut that it would not pass if ALL childcare workers were allowed to vote.

        1. Auntie Venom says:

          Minnesotans HAVE been affected by high cost of child care due to the ding dang subsidies. I had to decline a $15.00 an hour job because I would be paying $50.00 more a week for child care than what I’d be taking home. Unionizing child care will push those costs higher… costs paid for by the taxpayer. There are somethings that should not be unionized…School Principals, ER Doctors and Babysitters. Good grief, I hate this freakin’ state.

        2. Jake says:

          Lucifer and Kevin, you are both correct. Either ‘citizen’ is incredibly corrupt, or incredibly stupid, or BOTH. If the majority of the child care providers want a union, they don’t NEED a governor to put out an executive order. There are other ways to get this done….LEGALLY and ETHICALLY. This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

  4. Harry says:

    Why is Dayton not doing his job he was hired for. Work on getting jobs back, and stay away from the VIKINGS. You are a Governor, Not a law maker at your own will.
    A governor (from French gouverneur) is a governing official, usually the executive (at least nominally, to different degrees also politically and administratively) of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state. In federations, a governor may be the title of each appointed or elected politician who governs a constituent state. Where does it stay you can make your own rules and regulations.

  5. Mark says:

    Realize this that child care workers are NOT protected under the National Labor Relations Board rules and laws that protect the rest of us in Non-Union and Union jobs. this would primarily give Child Care providers the same protections that most of us take for granted.

    1. Can't be says:

      Yes that is it “worker rights”

      This has nothing to do with dirty SEIU union types wanting to withdraw “their cut” of welfare daycare money. They steal our hard earned tax dollars to enrich themselves and provide kickbacks to their corrupt DFL cronies.

      That is what this is about, they have no care in the world for daycare workers or your stupid NLRB rules.

      1. Lucifer says:

        You are exactly correct. This is about the transfer of government (taxpayer) funds to government worker unions without the consent of citizens. The same thing is happening now with medicaid payments to parents of sick and disabled children. They consider these parents to be employees of the state and take a portion of the parents medicaid payments to transfer to the government unions. This dirty brown stuff has to STOP!

        1. Charlie says:

          @Lucifer… Thank you very much for that feed-back… you are speaking the truth!

          1. Mark says:

            It is all ready happening in Michigan. Parents receiving Medicaid for their sick child are ruled as child care. Every check has a $30.00 deduction that goes directly to the SEIU thugs. Now the govt democRATS and union thugs are taking money from our sick children.

  6. Katydid says:

    I’m not sure I understand this issue. Can someone explain why the government should have the authority to stop a group of small business owners from doing something they feel would be in their best interest?
    The way I understand it, any daycare provider that chooses not to join the union is free to stay independent of it.

    1. Lucifer says:

      As usual, they are withholding the facts from the public on this issue. In the sixteen states that have unionized child care workers they have instituted a “like kind” contribution from day care workers that choose not to join the union. They argue that these non-union day care providers benefit from this new socialist structure that they have so wisely created. The non- union day care providers “contribute” at a slightly lower level than those that join the new union but they are forced to contribute and ultimately will be bound to follow and new laws and regulations that the government worker unions get our sleazy politicians to pass. The result is more regulation and fees on ALL child care workers (and soon elder care providers), more paperwork and HIGHER childcare costs to EVERYONE.

      Like all liberal ideas, this one is bad and we MUST stop it from becoming law.

  7. Lucifer says:

    LOL… Liberals have a difficult time focusing their thoughts and usually go off in unusual directions when they open their mouth and words start to pour out. I seriously think they have a worm in their brain.

    1. robert says:

      I love how right-wingers like yourself say that liberals focus their thoughts and usually go off in unusal directions. You need to take a good look at the three ring circus of your right-wing Republician candidates for president going off in unusual directions.

      1. g8bbgg says:

        and you guys have Franin, LMAO if he is a “Good” deal, he is nothing but a Perv.

  8. desert eagle .50 says:

    Labor unions are responsible for inflation, worker sloth, and lack of productivity.

  9. bobby says:

    I find it rather funny that in Wisconsin, they are upset that their governer is trying to break up unions, and in MN, we are upset that ours is trying to form unions.

    Desert Eagle is right on. Unions promote laziness.

  10. Charlie says:

    Does your keyboard have period or comma keys?
    And if your thought process runs like that statement, be very afraid!

  11. James says:

    I think it’s completely unfair that child care workers be subjected to these little monster children without being able to suck more pay out of someone. Why can’t the tax payers subsidize them? After all, “it’s for the children”.

    Just like the “check here to donate to your xyz election fund” option on your tax returns, we can have a “check here to donate to your local Pity Fund for Non-Essential Services” option. For those who wish to donate taxes to prop up their favorite organization because they “feel bad”, they can give to the pity fund and leave me out of it. Who needs a union? This is fundamental transformation.

  12. Just sayin' says:

    If I own the store and the main source of enterprise in town, god help you if you want to negotiate without a union. Here, here’s a pittance and you better be happy with it. I will definitely own more and more and more…… Is this fair, or can someone join a Union and get some kind of equal representation. Shame on those who do not agree with unions.

  13. John says:

    Do we really want jack-booted union thugs caring for our children?

  14. Obv. says:

    Seriously people Unions? What a joke

  15. Murph says:

    How many of them are scab illegals? The problem with political fights is that the truth is never spoken by those who are guilty! I am seriously thinking about casting the Republican POTUS candidates in my upcoming film production.A remake of the” Rocky Horror Picture Show”,the only thing lacking is the innocent young couple.NOOO Michele and Marcus can be in it,but in those roles! They just won’t fit there or just about anywhere for that matter! “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” perhaps! MMMM juicy fruit!

  16. g8bbgg says:

    Maybe it is time for the Home Day Care workers to walk off the job for a week, after all is that not the union thing to do? So what will happen if this group is forced into a communistic group and they quit. Dayton does not understand Day Care since his Nanny is still changing his diapers.

  17. Julie says:

    This is about forcing people to join an union that they do not wish to be part of. Their money will be taken from them without consent. The funds in the millions then get funneled into one political party. This is not America. Will they be forced to wear brown shirts?

    1. Citizen says:

      The vote outcome is majority rule of the day care providers who vote. Whether the vote is up or down should be immaterial to you CONservatives because you are always touting that majority should rule! So, now you are saying that there shouldn’t be a vote at all? Are you afraid that MAJORITY RULE will want a union? Are you afraid of the results? Appears so.

      1. Betty says:

        I guess you missed the response above to your odd statement. The problem is that only 4000 of the some 13,000 daycare providers are included in the vote, yet the vote will effect all daycare providers.
        Being on the vote and let everyone involved vote. I guess an an election judge you would rather see something other than a fair vote?

        1. Citizen says:

          @Betty. I don’t appreciate your slander as to my fairness as an election judge–which I am not, by the way. Keep up the slanderous remarks, Betty, and I will be contacting ‘CCO to find out who you are. I don’t care if it is 4,000 or 13,000, majority of voters rule. That is the point which obviously you don’t understand and want to pick at. Which is amazing since you CONservatives want picture IDs and all other sorts of controls on the voting process so who votes can be controlled. And now you don’t like the control of the voting day care providers?

          1. Betty says:

            So the majority of 4000 votes should effect all 13000 providers? Just askin the question? I suppose you also think that you dont deserve a vote on the Vikings Stadium, just leave it up to the Stadium suporters to make that decision? I didnt think so. See the problem with your thinking?

            1. Citizen says:

              I see no problem with my thinking, Betty, but I see a lot of problems with your slanderous posts. I could care less about the Vikings, go, stay, get out of the way. I don’t think anyone needs to support millionaire players or sports owners with tax dollars. I’m sure all these wealthy people with their wealthy connections can find a better way to finance the stadium. Ever heard of a bank? Or is the whole stadium too risky for a bank to finance?

              1. Betty says:

                The point it that if the Govenor wants to bring this to a vote, everyone involved should have the right to vote. All 13,000, not some 4000 selected by the govenor.

                1. Citizen says:

                  Did you read the article, Betty? The 4,300 receive state-subsidized benefits, the rest do not. That puts the 4,300 in a different financial situation of accepting state benefits. The article also states that no one knows exactly how the nonvoting providers will be affected. Basically, all of us wage earners in the U.S. are affected by union contracts we don’t vote on. Do you get sick leave, vacation pay, PTO, holidays, overtime pay, family leave, health insurance coverage etc? Those benefits are all from unionization that I KNOW you didn’t vote for, but you still benefit. You CONservatives fight the process tooth and nail unless you can be sure that the benefits and outcome will fit your ideology, and then you twist that ideology to fit the facts available. I don’t think any of you could take orders to go from point A to point B and not argue the ideology of the trip!

        2. Citizen says:

          Also, Betty, just a point about slander. When you accuse a public employee or elected official of corruption which is what you have done with your “fair vote” statement, you had better have some facts to back up a corruption charge, otherwise, you will be held liable. ‘CCO should have censored this remark by you otherwise the station is also part of the problem.

      2. Julie says:

        No one is stopping a child care provider from joining an union. This would be forced membership. This is a money grab involving millions. MN has one of the highest child care costs in the nation. Union membership will increase these costs. You ask what I’m afraid of. It s people like you. Where, at every turn, wish to remove Liberty from this country.

  18. Lucifer says:

    Where is the authority in the Minnesota Constitution that allows Dayton to order a vote on matters of this nature? This is an abuse of executive order by Markie Dayton to return a political favor to his union pals.

    There was no emergency that required the immediate action and results of an executive order. There was no reason this could not be voted upon by our elected congress.

  19. Phillip says:

    Why doesn’t CCO write something about American Airlines bankrupcy, another union success story?

  20. Just curious says:

    I am disappointed in these name calling comments since I really am struggling to understand this issue. I was hoping some of the comments could educate me but all I see is the liberal vs conservative dog fight. I understand “unions” when there is an employer. I could understand a union in one of the big chain childcare providers. Is this proposal saying that the state is the employer because so many of the kids are paid for with public money? If so, I’d really like to see some explanation about how that works. I think the reporting on this has been totally inadequate. Occasionally I’ve read that these individual run businesses want to join together for health care or retirement benefits. If so, they could form an “association” to work on those issues. Collectively an “association” could also lobby the state regarding their subsidy issues. I am having a hard time understanding the legal issues and the idea of unionizing a bunch of small businesses.

  21. Callina says:

    Wow, Curious… you ask a legitimate question about the actual issue… and everyone clams up!

    I guess name-calling is more fun than actual dialog.