Minnesota's hotly-contested child-care unionization law may remain on the back burner until next year as a result of an appeals court decision this week.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering a challenge to the Minnesota law by child care providers opposed to unionization, ruled on Tuesday that the Minnesota law remains blocked while appeals continue.
Two appeals are pending: a challenge to the Minnesota law by anti-union providers that was rejected in federal court in Minneapolis; and a separate case from Illinois that has been accepted for review and decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
That decision should come by next June, said Bill Messenger, an attorney for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is representing union opponents in both lawsuits. Until then, Messenger said, it appears that the portions of the Minnesota law allowing child care workers to proceed toward a union election will remain blocked.
That could change, he noted, if the 8th circuit rules in the Minnesota case before the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Illinois case.
Jennifer Munt, spokeswoman for AFSCME, which is organizing child care providers, said union lawyers believe the hearing will now proceed on the merits of the Minnesota case, and that the Minnesota issue is effectively "detached" from the Illinois case.
The Minnesota law, passed by the 2013 Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton, allows certain in-home child care providers and personal care attendants to vote on whether to unionize. Organizing drives are under way for both groups.
Messenger said because the lawsuit only challenges the child-care portion of the law, the personal care attendants are not affected by the appeals court ruling.
Officials for AFSCME have described the appeals as a temporary setback that will not affect the long-term drive to unionize providers. They have pointed out that no court has upheld the merits of the opponents' criticisms of the law -- merely blocking the law until those claims can be fully examined.
Munt said Wednesday the federal court ruling means "Tea Party extremists can temporarily stall Minnesota's child care union election. It only strengthens our resolve to continue organizing our union."
The related case involves organizing of care workers in Illinois, which the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear and rule on.That case is also being handled by the Virginia-based right-to-work group, whose mission is to “eliminate coercive union power.”
Dayton has accused opponents of throwing up endless legal roadblocks in an attempt to prevent providers from voting on whether to unionize.
Here is the latest order in the Minnesota case.