Minnesota judge blocks child care unionization vote

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 05, 2011 5:08 PM
Minnesota judge blocks child care unionization vote

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A state court judge blocked on Monday a unionization vote by thousands of state-licensed and subsidized child care workers that had been ordered by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton.

Ramsey County District Court Judge Dale Lindman issued a temporary restraining order halting the vote, which was to begin this week with the mailing of ballots to about 4,300 eligible licensed child care providers.

Dayton's order called for a vote to determine whether Minnesota should join 15 other states that recognize the right of child care workers to collective bargaining with the state.

Several child care providers had sued to halt the vote and Republican lawmakers had argued that Dayton overstepped the governor's authority and usurped the legislature's powers in ordering the vote.

"Governor Dayton didn't have the authority to mandate that the providers participate in a vote. He in essence was violating their constitutional rights," said attorney Thomas Revnew, who represented providers who brought the lawsuit.

Child care providers already have organizations that represent their interests, Revnew said.

Lindman scheduled a hearing on a temporary injunction on the issue for next month. The voting had been due to be conducted by mail over the next two weeks.

If approved, providers that accept state subsidies would have been allowed, but not required, to join unions. The voting group was to be providers who had received state subsidies in the previous year. Minnesota has about 11,000 child care providers overall.

Dayton cited a "troubling decline" in licensed family child care providers in the state and a difference of opinion among them over union representation.

The workers would have had the option of being represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in some areas of the state or the Service Employees International Union in others if they chose unionization.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)