The inclusion of unlicensed child care providers in a unionization attempt has drawn opposition from a former union supporter and from the state's family child care association.

An attempt by the public-employee union AFSCME to organize in-home child care workers includes both licensed and unlicensed providers -- an estimated total of 9,000 workers. The bill was heard in a Senate committee on Monday.

According to Katy Chase, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association, unlicensed providers are often relatives or neighbors who do not have to meet the requirements of licensed providers. "You're talking grammas and grampas, families and neighbors," she said.

"To have them included in a bill that's talking about negotiating things that wouldn't even come into play for them -- we don't think they should be included," said Chase, whose organization will oppose the AFSCME-backed bill.

At the same time, a former union supporter, Kathy Stevens, who provides licensed family child care in Brainerd and was once active in the union effort, issued a statement saying the union engaged in "unethical tactics in signing unlicensed providers." She said the reason for doing so was to win votes for the unionization attempt.

"Legally unlicensed providers are a mere pawn in the numbers game to obtain votes," Stevens said in her statement, which was submitted to the Senate committee.

AFSCME officials were not immediately available for comment.


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