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Taxpayers to pay $60K in legal fees for Dayton's failed unionization effort

Posted by: Baird Helgeson under Minnesota governor, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota legislature, Democrats, Republicans, State budgets Updated: October 29, 2013 - 5:50 PM

Minnesota taxpayers will pay $60,000 in legal fees for those who successfully fought an executive order by Gov. Mark Dayton calling for a unionization vote of home child care providers.

The plaintiff’s convinced the court that the governor exceeded his constitutional authority when he called for the unionization vote two years ago.

“This fee payment illustrates that the real extremist in the child care unionization scheme is the governor, who ignored the constitutional limitations on his own authority to do political favors for his union friends,” said plaintiff Becky Swanson. Dayton did it at the expense of “us self-employed child care providers who resisted this overreach.”

A spokesman for governor Dayton said the plaintiff’s originally wanted $214,000 to pay for legal fees and costs, but the governor’s staff negotiated the the amount down to $60,000.

“If anybody drove up the costs for taxpayers, it was the plaintiffs and not the governor,” said Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson

Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature have fought bitterly for years over efforts to unionize 4,300 home child care workers who get state subsides. The unions pushing the measure argue they have the muscle to help home child care workers secure better reimbursement rates at a time when state leaders are relentlessly trying to trim costs.

Republicans said the measure would merely strengthen unions from the increased dues they would collect and drive up government costs through the higher reimbursement rates.

“This is a victory for the hardworking child care providers of Minnesota,” said Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria. “Governor Dayton’s attempt to unilaterally impose a union election on child care providers needlessly wasted $60,000 of taxpayer dollars .... Now the taxpayers are on the hook to clean up his mistake.”

After a judge threw out Dayton’s executive order, the newly-elected Democrat-controlled Legislature passed a measure calling for a similar unionization vote for state-backed home child care workers and home health aides. Dayton signed the measure into law.

A group of home child care operators filed a new lawsuit to block the vote.

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