Day care union vote meeting ends with plenty of questions

Tilsen

Unions who want to organize in-home child care workers did not testify this morning as a Minnesota House committee looked into the issue.

Chairman Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, of the Commerce Committee said that he could call another meeting if union leaders would appear, adding that he may look into whether he can subpoena them to testify.

The morning-long committee meeting ended with many questions, including some that the Dayton administration officials who plans to conduct the unionization election could not answer.

“We are in uncharted waters here,” Hoppe said because no one can recall a similar election in which private businesses are being asked to vote to form a union to negotiate with the state.

The biggest questions both Republicans and Democrats wanted answered are who will be eligible to vote and whether those who are not part of a union will be affected by union negotiations.

Commissioner Josh Tilsen of the state Mediation Services Bureau said his staff is double-checking a 4,287-person list of licensed and registered home day care providers who receive a state subsidy. But he could not say why it, provided by the Human Services Department, is the list to use other than it matches requirements in an executive order Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton signed to order the election next month.

Some day-care providers in Hoppe’s hearing said all 11,000 day care providers, whether they receive state subsidies or not, should be eligible to vote because all could be affected by union negotiations with the state.

Hoppe said he wanted the two unions involved in the election to testify at his hearing to answer some questions they could not answer during an earlier meeting. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Service Employees International Union requested the elections and are campaigning among child-care providers.

Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, said he understands why a union would not want to testify: Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, plans to sue to stop the election. Atkins said that anything an election supporter said could be used in the upcoming court battle.

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