So Unions Are Really Pushing To Unionize In-Home Child Care?


A push to unionize in-home child care providers drew dueling testimonials by providers to state lawmakers in Waite Park on Monday night.

It happened at a House committee hearing at the Stearns County Service Center on efforts to organize a union for Minnesota’s licensed, in-home child care providers.

Supporters of the effort say such a union could enable the 11,000 licensed in-home providers in Minnesota to negotiate with state officials on issues such as state child care subsidies or regulation of providers. Critics say a union could drive up the cost of child care and give providers less say on how to run their businesses.

Some also complained of heavy-handed tactics they said were employed by union organizers to sway providers.

Organizers of the unionization push, including AFSCME and SEIU, say they’ve obtained signed cards in support of unionization from a majority of the state’s licensed in-home providers.

In the St. Cloud area, AFSCME is organizing among child care providers in Benton County, while SEIU is doing so among Stearns County providers, according to AFSCME Council 5 spokeswoman Jennifer Munt.

Based on the card signatures, union supporters have said Gov. Mark Dayton has authority to issue an executive decree recognizing a child care providers union. But Dayton says he won’t act before providers take a union authorization vote.

Republicans who control the state House have said child care providers can’t be unionized by executive decree alone, but that instead would require an act of the Legislature. Some lawmakers also questioned the validity of the signed cards in support of unionization.

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said some providers signed the cards believing they were only requesting more information about unionization. The organizing push “is making the unions look really bad,” Franson said. “Ultimately, its going to lead to a right-to-work state.”

Child care provider Heather Falk told legislators at Monday’s hearing that she’s a Democrat, and initially was curious about the unionization effort.

But Falk, of Cloquet, says she researched the issue and learned such unions in other states have done little to aid providers there. She also said she’s concerned about being forced to pay a share of her earnings to a union through dues.

“I’m capable of running my business without the help of a union,” Falk told lawmakers.

Other providers, such as Karla Scapanski of Sauk Rapids, see a potential benefit in forming a union.

Scapanski says she hopes it could help her pool with other providers to buy cheaper health coverage. Scapanski says that, in turn, could enable her to lower rates for her services, Scapanski said.

“There’s power in numbers,” Scapanski said.  Source:  Mark Sommerhauser. St. Cloud Times.

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Posted on October 25, 2011, in Labor Relations and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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