DFL overreaches on day care unionization

  • Article by: STAR TRIBUNE EDITORIAL
  • Updated: May 15, 2013 - 6:36 PM

Unionization bill is political payback, not good policy.

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GOP Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, right, and DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen.

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Don’t buy the malarkey coming from DFL legislators poised to deliver one of the most sought-after items on Big Labor’s wish list: unionizing Minnesota child care providers.

The controversial, potentially costly legislation that passed the Minnesota Senate on party lines early Wednesday after an all-night debate doesn’t merely allow day care providers to vote on unionization, as its backers often soft-pedal it. It stacks the deck for a union-friendly outcome by excluding about half of the state’s trusted licensed family child care providers from the upcoming vote.

The intent of the legislation, expected to be taken up by the House on Saturday, also goes far beyond the airy “it’s for the kids” or “it’s about empowering providers” platitudes often heard from supporters. Let’s be clear: This is a financial lifeline to a big, public-sector, Democrat-friendly union at a time when union membership is at a historic low nationally.

If a child care provider union comes to pass, some of the $207 million in taxpayer dollars spent annually to help Minnesota families pay for child care will instead be skimmed off as union dues, deposited into the coffers of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

About a third of providers’ inaugural monthly dues of $25 would go to AFSCME’s national organization. In a previous editorial, we asked how this money sent out of state would improve day care here. We’re still waiting for a good answer that doesn’t involve vague assurances about “advocacy” by well-paid national staff.

We’re also still waiting to hear how allowing not just child care providers, but some home health care workers, to collectively bargain with the state for more pay and, potentially, health benefits amounts to good stewardship of public dollars. Lawmakers are currently intent on raising taxes to pay the state’s bills. This legislation could significantly add to future expenses at a time when more cost control is sorely needed.

It’s fitting that much of the Senate’s debate took place in the dark of night. But DFL lawmakers are fooling themselves if they doubt that Minnesotans see this overreaching legislation for what it is: the collection of a campaign IOU by labor interests who worked on the party’s behalf in 2012.

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