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Child care providers defeat mandatory union representation

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's subsidized child care providers overwhelmingly rejected an attempt to require a union to conduct their negotiations with the state.

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's subsidized child care providers overwhelmingly rejected an attempt to require a union to conduct their negotiations with the state.

The vote was 1,014-392 in a Tuesday count by the state Bureau of Mediation Services from ballots mailed to providers last month.

The election was a defeat for Gov. Mark Dayton and other Democrats who promoted the unionization effort. Republicans declared the results show that childcare providers do not want state interference.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said Dayton administration "did not follow the law" when it set up the election, ruling that many providers did not qualify for ballots.

"This vote should be the final word on Dayton’s shameful effort to pay back the AFSCME union for their early support of his campaign for governor," Hann said. "Senate Republicans will now push to have the law repealed in the face of such strong opposition from providers and parents.”

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House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, joined Hann in delivering harsh reaction. "Gov. Dayton tried and failed to rig an election that would have increased childcare costs for hardworking parents and caused headaches for independent providers."

Dayton first tried to set up the vote via executive order. After courts ruled that he did not have the power, a Democrat-controlled Legislature approved giving childcare workers a vote.

Home health-care providers earlier voted in favor of union representation in a similar election.

The child care vote would have given the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 exclusive rights to negotiate for providers. Union leaders said that would have provided those who care for children more money, more training and more say in what the state requires of them.

"We’re proud that we were able to expand collective bargaining rights to family care providers who care for Minnesota’s poorest children" in the health provider vote, said Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5. "But we’re disappointed that the providers won’t have the opportunity to negotiate higher state subsidy rates and better training to prepare kids for kindergarten and success in life."

The union effort stretches back a decade.

Seide said that Republicans hurt working families and children with their opposition to the union requirement.

"We expose Republican legislators who cut the providers’ pay and training while ignoring 7,000 families waiting for child care assistance," Seide said. "And we condemn anti-union extremists whose lawsuits continue to undermine the women who care for our kids.”

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Daudt said that childcare providers still may voluntarily join a union, they just cannot be forced to.

Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, said that defeat of the union requirement means "families around the state can continue utilizing the best, most cost-efficient providers in their area."

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