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Court allows childcare union vote

ST. PAUL — A federal court Thursday said a vote to organize a union for some Minnesota home day care providers can be scheduled.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed of two lawsuits filed to block the drive. However, opponents of the union said the decision only slows their efforts.

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“Today’s decision refrained from weighing in on the merits of the case brought by childcare providers and simply means that childcare providers will have to wait for their case to be heard,” state Rep Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said.

“This decision doesn’t change the fact that Minnesota childcare rates are the highest in the country and hardworking moms and dads cannot afford the additional financial strain that forced unionization would impose on their family budgets.”

Union opponents say they expect to file a new suit later in the process.

The appeals judges indicated that they tossed the lawsuits because there would be no case until people filing them suffer harm. With an election to form a union not yet held, the court ruled, no one has been harmed.

Democrats who control the state House, Senate and governor’s office enacted a law to allow Minnesotans who receive state subsidies to care for children in their homes to join a union. First, however, eligible childcare providers would need to vote to form a union, and that has not occurred.

If a union is formed, it would negotiate with the state on behalf of nearly 13,000 childcare providers. The union is being considered because some providers want to work out better pay and working conditions.

In a related situation, a suit has been filed against an election that has been ordered for personal care attendants who care for the sick, elderly and disabled.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.