Minnesota Public Radio | December 14, 2011
By Catharine Richert
Two Minnesota unions want to organize Minnesota’s in-home child care workers, and the effort has sparked a heated battle between the Dayton administration and Republicans in the Legislature.
Among those who oppose the effort is Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, who sent a letter to child care providers encouraging them to reject unionization.
On Dec. 2, he wrote that, while only some day care providers will be able to vote on whether to unionize, “the other 7,000 providers will be forced to pay full or ‘fair share’ union dues, and will be subject to additional regulation, even though they were denied the right to vote in this election.”
Westrom’s claim is false.
Two Minnesota unions – American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union – are trying to unionize the state’s in-home day care providers.
On Nov. 15, Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order that would allow Minnesota’s day care providers who are licensed and registered, and who participate in a state program that subsidizes child care to vote on unionization. That’s roughly 4,200 providers out of the approximately 11,000 in the state.
If the majority of those 4,200 agree, it would give the union the right to hash out issues, such as regulation and subsidy rates, with the administration. At this point, a court has put a restraining order on Dayton’s executive order but Dayton plans to contest that order.
So, Westrom is correct that only some child care providers will be able to vote on whether there should be a union. But he’s wrong that those who don’t want to be in the union would have to pay fair share union dues.
A Frequently Asked Questions document on the executive order from Dayton’s office is clear on this:
“The Minnesota Fair Share law (Minn. Stat. § 179A.06, subd. 3), which requires all public employees to contribute ‘a fair share fee for services rendered by the exclusive representative,’ would not apply to these family child care providers.”
Dayton’s executive order makes clear that, “nothing in this order shall be construed to require participation, or the involuntary payment of dues by any family child care provider.”
As for additional regulation, Westrom is off the mark there as well. At this point, unionization doesn’t come with additional regulations, let alone regulations that all of Minnesota’s 11,000 in-home child care workers would be subject to.
Westrom conceded that given the complexity of the issue and the amount of context needed, the sentence may have been better written as: “The other 7,000 providers may be forced to pay full or “fair share” union dues, and will be subject to additional regulation, even though they were denied the right to vote in this election.”
Under Gov Dayton’s order child care providers who are not allowed to vote on unionization will not have to pay fair share dues.
Westrom’s claim is false.
Letter, Rep. Torrey Westrom to constituents, Dec. 2, 2011
Office of Gov. Mark Dayton, Governor Dayton issues executive order calling for union election among child care providers, November 15, 2011
Office of Gov. Mark Dayton, Frequently Asked Questions about Child Care Collective Bargaining, accessed Dec. 13, 2011
Associated Press via Minnesota Public Radio News, Dayton to contest child care unionization ruling, December 8, 2011