Judge: Child-care union vote remains on hold

  • Article by: JIM RAGSDALE
  • Star Tribune
  • February 22, 2012 - 11:31 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton's order for an election to see if in-home child-care providers want to unionize remained on hold Wednesday as lawyers argued about whether he exceeded his authority in calling for the vote.

Ramsey County District Judge Dale Lindman heard final pleas from lawyers representing anti-union child-care providers and those representing Dayton and a union seeking to organize providers. Lindman said his order blocking the union election will remain in effect until he rules on issues raised by providers opposed to unionization.

At issue is Dayton's Nov. 15 executive order calling for a limited election to determine whether in-home child-care providers want to be represented by one of two unions -- the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) or the Service Employees International Unions (SEIU).

The two groups have been trying to organize in-home providers for years.

Dayton's order would limit the election to those providers caring for children receiving state subsidies, about 4,300 of 11,000 total licensed in-home providers.

As the Republican-controlled Legislature fought the plan, a group of providers opposed to unionization, with financial help from a conservative group, filed suit. Lindman issued a temporary restraining order in December blocking the election.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the anti-union providers told Lindman that Dayton's order usurped the Legislature's authority to write laws and should be permanently blocked.

A lawyer for AFSCME, Gregg Corwin, said Lindman had interfered with the executive branch by blocking Dayton's order. Lindman said it was not his intent to interfere.

"As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have [Dayton's] job," he said.

"I have to apply the law the way I understand it to be. That's what I'm going to try to do.''

SEIU issued a statement saying it was going to "step away" from the lawsuit, which it called "a nationally orchestrated and corporately funded attack on working families and unions."

No date was set for Lindman's decision.

Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042

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