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Continued: Minnesota unions win big victory at Capitol

  • Article by: JIM RAGSDALE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 20, 2013 - 10:10 PM

“We see government at its ugliest and most brutish,” said Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, during the House debate. She called it a case of “big government and big unions double-teaming small businesses.” Opponents saw the bill as a payoff for unions that contribute heavily to DFL candidates and causes and that now want to add dues-paying members.

“Providers all over Minnesota are so engaged on this issue,” said Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, a former child-care provider and opponent of the bill.

“They want to continue their version of the American dream.”

Defenders of the bill say it is part of a historical union struggle to improve workers’ lives, particularly in female-dominated jobs such as nursing, teaching and now caring for children and the elderly. They emphasized that the bill does not require unionization of anyone, but merely calls for an election.

“I believe this bill is a way to address inequality,” said Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, who also noted that a previous GOP-controlled Legislature had recently sought to cut both the child-care subsidy program and PCA payments.

House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, talked about the importance of the union to her autoworker father, and compared that to her mother’s low wages doing nonunion work, such as cleaning houses and working in a grocery store.

“If we pass this law, all we’re saying is, it’s their choice,” Murphy said.

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger contributed to this report. Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042

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  • AFSCME and SEIU members cheered Sen. Sandy Pappas and Rep. Michael Nelson, co authors of the day-care unionization bill, which passed 68-66 on Monday.

  • Union vote

    • Bill gives two groups of workers the right to vote on whether to form unions.

    • Affects 21,000 home child-care providers and personal care attendants.

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