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Governor fights court order halting Minnesota day care union election

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ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton is challenging a court order blocking an election that would allow in-home day care workers to join unions.

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His spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci, said he will dispute the issue at a Jan. 17 Ramsey County District Court hearing.

Judge Dale Lindman on Monday ordered a temporary injunction to stop the election, set to begin this week, saying such a decision should be made by the Legislature. He scheduled a Jan. 17 hearing about whether he should permanently block the vote.

The attorney general's office told Dayton after the Monday order that he had three options: withdraw the executive order setting up the election, immediately appeal to a higher court or wait until the Jan. 17 hearing to object. The Democratic governor picked the third.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union have tried for six years to unionize Minnesotans who care for children in their homes. They claim a union would give day care providers a greater say when dealing with state agencies about subsidy rates and other issues governing in-home day care.

Dayton ordered the election, which would allow about 4,300 care providers to vote. They are the providers out of 11,000 who receive state subsidies to care for children.

A suit filed by 11 day care providers and backed by several conservative organizations asked that the election be stopped.

In court Monday, Lindman agreed with those bringing the suit that Dayton should not have ordered an election.

The governor can recommend laws, Lindman said, but cannot adopt them on his own "by fiat or executive order."

Republicans who opposed the election said Dayton should have withdrawn his executive order, especially after seeing Lindman's comments.

"With this information in hand, the governor had the opportunity to withdraw, rethink and reconsider his executive order, but he has instead decided to forge ahead while his union allies cheer him on," Sens. David Hann of Eden Prairie and Mike Parry of Waseca said in a statement.

Union leaders complained about the Lindman ruling, saying it only will delay giving a voice to day care providers.

Dayton on Wednesday, while still deciding what he would do in the case, said that his attorney has given him the green light on every executive order he has signed since he entered office at the first of 2011.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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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.
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