Committee opposes child care union dues deductions
By: Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau, Pine Journal
ST. PAUL – Heather Falk successfully pleaded with a Minnesota House committee Tuesday to ban deducting union dues from state child care assistance funds.
“Nothing should come from those low-income families,” the Cloquet in-home child-care provider said.
The Republican-dominated committee agreed with Falk on a 12-7 mostly party-line vote after nearly two hours of partisan debate. The bill now awaits action in the full House.
The issue was deeper than the deduction question. Democrats on the committee, who opposed the bill, said the real issue is why Republicans have cut child care funding. Republicans claimed that a Gov. Mark Dayton executive order, stalled in court, could force some child-care providers into paying unions.
The real debate is about the executive order that Dayton issued late last year to allow in-home child-care providers to join unions if they accept children in state-subsidized low-income families. Republicans put up a fight and some child-care providers took the matter to state and federal courts.
A state judge delayed implementation of the Dayton order and scheduled a hearing for later this month to hear arguments about whether he should permanently overturn the order.
Falk and fellow Cloquet provider Judy Sanda were among six who testified for the bill; no one going in front of the panel opposed it.
Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo, wrote the bill, saying that state child care subsidies should not be used to pay union dues.
While nothing in the executive order requires a child-care provider to join a union, that is a fear among providers and Republicans.
“No one is talking about forcing anyone to do anything,” Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, said.
But Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said Lohmer’s bill is designed to prevent a “slow creep” toward mandatory union dues.
Out of approximately 11,000 childcare providers in Minnesota, 8,000 are willing to take CCAP families and 4,000 providers received a CCAP payment last year.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Pine Journal newspaper.