Gov. Mark Dayton, under attack for an order that calls for a unionization vote among some in-home child care providers, defended his order and said it will not harm care in the state.
"In appears that you and other opponents of unions are trying to scare small family providers that a big, bad union and the big, bad government will join forces to ruin child care in Minnesota,'' he wrote to Republican House leaders on Tuesday. "It isn't true.''
His letter was addressed to House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, and concerned their letter to him after he issued his order on Nov. 15. That letter has not been made public.
In his order, Dayton called for a vote among roughly 4,300 of the state's 11,000 in-home, licensed family child-care providers to see if they want to be represented by AFSCME or SEIU, the two unions that have long been trying to organize them. He limited the vote to those who are registered to receive subsidies from the state for caring for children. Republican leaders and union foes have said all 11,000 members should be allowed to vote in the election, which is tentatively scheduled for next month.
Dayton said if the unions win the elections, some negotiations with the state might affect nonunion providers, in the same way that a wage hike won by one union might be matched by a rival company. "That would not be cause, however, for allowing the other companies' employees to vote in the first company's union election,'' he said.
Dayton said unions appeal to workers "because they often find their collective voice is more effective than their individual voices'' in such areas as wages, benefits, and "in the case of service providers, their clients' care and well being.''
He said the Republican leaders have implied "that a nefarious union and a rogue state'' would make major changes that would "severely harm" other child-care providers. He said that is not possible, because any significant change in laws or reimbursement rates or rules would have to go before the Legislature or a rule-making process that is open to all.
Dayton said he is giving the child-care providers a chance to make their own choice about union representation, and added he is "amazed that in this democracy there are people opposed to allowing them to hold an election to decide the matter among themselves, for themselves.''
Dayton's letter follows.