A Ramsey County District Court judge issued a ruling on Friday saying that the executive order issued by Gov. Mark Dayton last year authorizing an election of state child care providers is “null and void.”
According to Judge Dale Lindman, Gov. Dayton exceeded his authority because the order was an “unconstitutional usurpation of the Legislature’s constitutional right to create and or amend laws” and violated the Separation of Powers doctrine.
“By Executive Order 11-31, the Governor is attempting to circumvent the legislative process and unionize child care providers by executive order rather than adhering to a valid legislative process,” Lindman wrote in his ruling. “In doing so, the Governor has improperly superseded the Legislature’s authority and violated the separation of powers clause as set forth in the Minnesota Constitution.”
Child care provider and plaintiff Hollee Saville was thrilled with the ruling, saying that all the time and effort child care providers have invested has finally paid off.
“We have rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. As child care providers and small business owners, we’re glad the judge ruled on the basis of the Constitution,” said Saville. “I’m thankful for all the providers and Minnesotans that have supported us in this effort.”
The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) first examined the controversial effort to unionize in home child care providers in June 2011 and has worked closely with several child care providers across the state, including Rochester small businesswoman and child care provider Jennifer Parrish.
“We never believed the governor had the authority to issue such an executive order. If the unions want to organize child care providers, they should at least have to go before the legislature to make the argument why independent businesses should be forced into unions,” said Parrish.
In January 2012, Parrish and others filed an additional lawsuit in federal court challenging the governor’s executive order. It is unclear how this state court decision will impact the federal case which is due to be heard on May 15.
The federal lawsuit contends that the union effort authorized by Governor Dayton’s executive order on November 15, 2011 violates the providers’ first amendment right of free political expression and association. The National Right to Work Foundation, a nonprofit legal aid association based in Washington, DC, has offered free legal assistance to child care providers who are battling what they view as compulsory unionization.
“We’ll have to see how much more of taxpayer dollars the governor is willing to waste on this ridiculous idea. We clearly don’t want this, he knew we didn’t want this from the emails and phone calls from child care providers leading up to the executive order,” said Parrish. “At this point we just hope he’ll let it be, so we can get back to doing what we do best, which is working with children and operating our small businesses instead of having to take time off and fight this union issue at the Capitol.”
For more background on the issues leading up to today’s decision, visit our previous coverage below:
Child Care Providers to Challenge Unionization in Federal Court – January 19, 2012
Ramsey County Judge Halts Childcare Union Vote – December 5, 2011
Governor Dayton Pulls Trigger on Controversial Providers Union – November 15, 2011
Sources: Gov. Dayton Close to Ordering Child Care Union Vote – November 11, 2011
Surprising Setback: Dayton Says No to Executive Order for Daycare Provider Union – September 14, 2011
Leaked Memo Adds Fuel to Concerns Over Child Care Union Debate – November 2, 2011