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Legislative notebook: GOP passes bill banning child care union dues

ST. PAUL - State subsidies paid to Minnesota's home-based child care providers could not be used to pay union dues under a bill the Republican-controlled Legislature Monday sent to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

ST. PAUL - State subsidies paid to Minnesota's home-based child care providers could not be used to pay union dues under a bill the Republican-controlled Legislature Monday sent to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Senators passed the bill 37-25, following a similar House action a few weeks ago.

"Our bill simply protects money that was meant for our kids," Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, said.

The bill is in reaction to a Dayton executive order that would have allowed unions to organize owners of in-home day care centers that receive state subsidies.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said Dayton made it clear that no one would be forced to join a union if the vote were held and it passed, so the bill is not needed.

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"This is a waste of time," Marty said.

Cloquet child care provider Heather Falk delivered a letter signed by 638 fellow providers to Dayton's office moments after senators approved the bill she favors.

They urged Dayton to sign the bill into law because it would keep child care available for families receiving Child Care Assistance Program subsidies.

"Many child care providers now state they will make a personal business decision to discontinue offering care to current and future CCAP funded families if union dues or fees are part of the program," the letter said. "Some have already stopped accepting new CCAP families because they believe it is only a matter of time before fees are associated with the program."

In related news, earlier this month, Judge Dale Lindman struck down Governor Dayton's executive order calling for a unionization election among independent, home-based childcare providers.

A group of 11 childcare providers filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the order, claiming the election and potential involuntary payment of "fair share" fees to the unions violated their rights. The lawsuit asserted that the governor lacks the legal authority to order a unionization election and the judge ultimately agreed.

In the April 6 order, Judge Lindman wrote that the governor has exceeded his authority by attempting to implement Executive Order 11-31. The judge said the governor was improperly attempting to circumvent the legislative process and violated the separation of powers as set forth in the Minnesota Constitution.

The order permanently enjoins the unionization election and bars the governor from any attempt to implement the executive order. It also awards the plaintiffs court costs and attorney fees.

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A spokeswoman said Dayton has not decided whether he will appeal. Even if he does not appeal, unions likely will be back.

"Pro-union child care providers forge ahead," read a news release headline from The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 reacting to the court decision.

Union spokeswoman Jennifer Munt stopped short of saying what kind of action could come next.

"We're united to increase the quality of child care, to improve access for working parents, and to stabilize our profession," Munt said. "No judge or politician can stop that."

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