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To the editor,
Last week, the House Commerce Committee held a hearing to examine the recent decision by Governor Dayton to hold an election allowing the unionization of home daycare providers. As Members of the Committee we participated in this hearing, posing questions to the witnesses to determine how the unionization vote will be conducted, who will be allowed to vote, and what the outcome will mean. The answers provided left us deeply concerned and of the opinion that this voting process is flawed and unfair.
Since then, a Ramsey County judge issued a temporary restraining order to suspend the election. This is a huge victory for small businesses in our state.
The causes for concern are numerous, starting with the simple fact that unionization likely would increase daycare costs for parents. In Illinois, childcare rates have jumped as much as 35 percent since the first year of its contract unionizing home daycare providers in 2006. Significant childcare rate increases have occurred in at least seven of the unionized daycare states. At a time when families’ budgets are already stretched thin, higher daycare costs will only add to the economic struggles of Minnesota families.
Furthermore, finding childcare could become more difficult as providers close to avoid being subject to union representation and intervention in their businesses. Both Maryland and Illinois saw a drop in the number of licensed childcare providers after they unionized.
Red flags should be raised when our governor is pushing to unionize independent small-business owners. If unionization can be thrust upon self-employed daycare providers because they provide care for children whose families receive government subsidies, who will be targeted next? Foster parents? Anyone who cares for people receiving state assistance? This added red tape and intervention between customer and caregiver is not the kind of policy that encourages job growth and entrepreneurial activity.
The voting process to determine whether home daycares are unionized also is severely flawed. The governor called for the election to occur in December but is only allowing 4,287 daycare providers out of more than 11,000 to vote. That means 7,000 daycare providers will not have a say in what will impact an entire industry. Members of the House Commerce Committee, on a bipartisan basis, decried this decision as unfair. All providers will be affected and should be allowed to vote.
Even if your daycare provider does not join the union, nothing prohibits the union from instituting “fair share fees” on non-union providers, forcing them to pay dues. A simple rulemaking procedure in existence at the Department of Human Services could also extend unionization to the entire industry. The precedent already has been set in Michigan, where the governor classified that state’s daycare providers as public employees after they unionized.
Our providers do an outstanding job and should retain the latitude to operate their businesses as they and parents see fit, especially during these tough economic times. As we continue to closely monitor this situation, we welcome your input and encourage parents and daycare providers to contact Governor Dayton to let him know where you stand on this issue as well.
Rep. Jenifer Loon
Rep. Kirk Stensrud
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