Surprising Setback: Dayton Says No to Executive Order for Daycare Provider Union

House leaders' letter to governor says providers are private contractors, not public employees

ST.PAUL, MN--The leading opponent of the drive to unionize Minnesota daycare providers didn’t even know she’d finally won a round in her five year-long battle until she was contacted for her reaction to the news. She was stunned to learn that Governor Mark Dayton had ruled out an executive order to unilaterally authorize statewide unionization of more than 11,000 licensed childcare providers in Minnesota.

“I’m relieved and thankful that he has ruled this out,” said Jennifer Parrish, a daycare provider in Rochester. “I don’t believe, however, that the unions will go away after this.  So we’re just waiting to see what their next move is after this.”

Dayton noted that though an executive order was used by other states, he is no longer considering that option.  Instead, he told the media today that he’s leaning toward ordering a union election by secret ballot.

“If there is going to be a decision made, we’ve talked about …having an election that would be conducted by, for example, the Bureau of Mediation Services so it would be done fairly and responsibly and allows all the people who would be affected by that decision to have a say in it. I’m not going to dictate the outcome of that,” Dayton said.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) and House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) delivered a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton today aimed at dissuading him from using an executive order to unionize daycare providers.
 
“Private, self-employed home-based childcare providers are independent contractors, not public employees nor employers of any single employer,” the letter read.  “Unionization of these small businesses by executive order is clearly beyond the scope of the governor’s power.”
 
The impetus for unionization is childcare providers who receive state subsidies for children of low-income families.  In other states with childcare provider unions, dues are collected from state subsidy payments.  It’s unclear whether non-subsidized providers, who say they account for the vast majority of Minnesota’s daycare workers, would have to pay fair share fees.
 
The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota first revealed concerns raised by some anti-union childcare providers who said they were misled by some organizers collecting signatures on cards used to support a union.  In a recent meeting with Dayton administration officials, union opponents reiterated those allegations. An influential statewide daycare provider organization that is neutral on the issue of unionization raised similar concerns on the process at that meeting.
 
“This is a big first step in bringing transparency to a very controversial process that will affect the bottom line of thousands of small business owners and the families who rely on them,” said Annette Meeks, CEO of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota.  “This case clearly illustrates why the card check process is so flawed and must never take the place of the secret ballot.”
 
“We’ve learned firsthand that card check is not always an indicator of how people actually feel,” said Parrish. “If all 11,000 and some childcare providers are allowed a secret ballot vote, the unions will not win.  I think that we will absolutely prevail in a secret ballot election and I think that it will be a landslide.”

Yet, Parrish and others realize that the issue is far from settled and know that after investing five years into the movement, the unions are not going to give up either. 



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