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Minnesota Women Mark National Small Business Week in Federal Appeals Court

  • Blog Post by: Tom Steward
  • May 17, 2014 - 5:04 PM

It may have slipped by you but not the Huffington Post. The headline touts “National Small Business Week 2014:  Women-owned Small Businesses are Making Strides.”

Tell that to the dozen women small business owners who were defending—instead of celebrating--their home-based child care businesses against Gov. Mark Dayton and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union this week in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We just want to keep running our small businesses the way we see fit,” said Jennifer Parrish, a Rochester provider and plaintiff in Parrish v. Dayton. “We’re the ones that take all the responsibility for starting these businesses from the ground up and the union should not be able to come in and take a cut of our earnings, a cut of our profits, just because some politicians in St. Paul decided they wanted to do their union friends a favor.”

Under a controversial 2013 law passed along party lines, some 12,700 licensed and unlicensed home-based child care providers were designated as state employees subject to potential unionization overnight.

“It creates a limited employment relationship with the State for purposes of possible union representation regarding, in particular, the State subsidy,” said Alan Gilbert, Minnesota’s solicitor general on behalf of Dayton in court documents

Union supporters say providers need a say in how a $211 million annual state taxpayer subsidy for low-income families gets distributed. The providers challenging the law’s constitutionality on First Amendment grounds warn other businesses doing commerce with the State of Minnesota--small and large—will be next.

“If it is held constitutional for Minnesota to impose an exclusive representative on small business owners and family members merely because they serve children enrolled in a public-aid program, then vast swaths of the population could also be collectivized based on their services to public-aid recipients,” said Bill Messenger, a National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney, in court documents.

“This includes government contractors, those serving Medicaid or Medicare beneficiaries, or anyone else whose services are paid for by a government program.”

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals halted the Minnesota child care union drive last September, pending the outcome of a Supreme Court case challenging a home care assistants union in Illinois, Harris v. Quinn.  The child care providers in federal court this week say the results of both cases could determine whether they also start making strides as women small business owners.

(Read more about Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing here.)

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