Governor Mark Dayton is on the verge of issuing an executive order calling for a vote on the controversial plan to establish a home childcare union, according to providers who met with the governor Thursday evening. The long-awaited meeting between Dayton and providers who oppose unionization took place at the Capitol, and also included the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs as well as the director of the Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association.
“We’re frustrated and saddened that the governor appears to have made his decision before we even got there. We were hoping to speak to him before that decision was made because we truly believe this decision should not be made without speaking to some of the many providers that are opposed to this,” said Jennifer Parrish, a Rochester provider who’s led the opposition to unionization.
Katie Tinucci, Dayton’s Press Secretary, confirmed that a meeting took place Thursday night between Dayton and the providers, but said she “cannot confirm anything that was said–I did not attend. My understanding was that the meeting took place at the request of the providers, and the governor was there to listen to their concerns.”
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have asked Dayton to use his executive powers to assist their drive to organize the self-employed child care providers into bargaining units.
Parrish said Dayton indicated his intention to order a union vote that would include the 25 percent of providers who care for children who receive state subsidies. In the meeting, the providers stressed their concerns that the bargaining unit would affect all of the 11,000 licensed childcare providers, not just those receiving state subsidies. The providers fear that the scope of issues covered by the union bargaining unit will affect the thousands of other non-union providers, as well.
“We were upset that he plans to proceed with a vote that will make 75 percent of providers in the state ineligible to vote even though the union’s bargaining will affect all providers,” Parrish said.
The Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services would likely oversee the election, though there’s discussion of an outside firm actually conducting the balloting. The election is expected to take approximately three weeks and be completed by the end of the year.
The providers presented Dayton with new data demonstrating that childcare votes in other states have been seriously flawed.
“Just a small percentage of those who got ballots were actually licensed providers in the election in Illinois and the same in Michigan. The rest were unlicensed family, friends and neighbors,” Parrish said.