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Child care providers vote against union

Minnesota's in-home child care providers voted overwhelmingly against being represented by a union, according to election results released on Tuesday.

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Minnesota's in-home child care providers voted overwhelmingly against being represented by a union, according to election results released on Tuesday.

Minnesota's Bureau of Mediation Services reported that in-home daycare providers voted 1,014 to 392 against allowing a union to represent them in collective bargaining with the state. Rochester daycare provider Jennifer Parrish, leader of the Coalition of Union Free Providers, helped lead the effort to defeat the measure.

"We're glad. Obviously, we know that the overwhelming majority are opposed, so we're not surprised in the least bit (with the results)," Parrish said in an interview.

If the measure had passed, providers who care for children eligible for the state's Child Care Assistance Program would have been represented by AFSCME Council 5 in negotiations with the state. The union represents 43,000 public workers in the state. In a statement, AFSCME Council 5 Executive Director Eliot Seide said the union was disappointed by the results.

"We're proud that we were able to expand collective bargaining rights to family care providers who care for Minnesota's poorest children. 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," Seide said.

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The battle over whether in-home providers should be represented by a union has raged in the state for more than decade. In 2013, the DFL-controlled Legislature passed a measure allowing the vote to move ahead despite fierce opposition from Republicans. Opponents of the union effort had raised concerns about the recent election. Of the roughly 11,000 daycare providers in the state, only 2,348 providers had a chance to vote in the election.

The union said it does not plan to push for another election before the law allowing the vote expires in 2017. Even so, Parrish said she wants lawmakers to repeal the bill in the upcoming legislative session.

"We're taking a day to celebrate but at the end of the day, we also know this isn't over yet. We've told AFSCME no for 11 years now and every time we beat them, whether it's through the court or today in the election, they tend to rewrite the rules and come back again," Parrish said.

GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt issued a statement praising the results and accusing DFL Gov. Mark Dayton of trying and failing to "rig an election."

"Democrats have been out of touch on this issue and seem to care more about increasing union dues that help fund their campaigns than about reducing the cost of child care for Minnesota families," Daudt said.

Supporters of the unionization effort blasted opponents' tactics.

A tweet from AFSCME's Child Care Providers Together Local 3400's account said, "It is a sad day for providers when the fear mongering of a few speaks louder than the will and needs of the many."

Related Topics: KURT DAUDT
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