Child care unionization measure voted down

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The House voted overwhelmingly against a measure that would have called for a union election for child care providers, with DFL members calling it “gotcha” politics.

Rep. Branden Petersen (R-Andover) offered the measure as an amendment to another amendment to HF1977/ SF1755*. Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order last year calling for 4,300 home child care providers to vote on whether to unionize, but earlier this month a Ramsey County judge struck down the order, calling it unconstitutional. Petersen said he offered the amendment to put legislators on the record about it.

“I believe that we ought to bring this forward to the proper constitutional venue,” Petersen said.

DFLers accused Petersen and House Republicans of playing political games, offering an amendment they intended to vote against. Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) said the maneuver made a “mockery” of the legislative process.

Republicans defended the move, saying it was appropriate for legislators to debate the issue.

“The Legislature ought to have a voice in this, and this is one way to have it,” said Rep. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake).

Others, meanwhile, welcomed the chance to debate the issue and said they supported the idea of allowing child care providers the chance to bargain collectively.

“The radical concept behind the Dayton executive order is that people should have elections to decide whether or not they want to be part of a union,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley).

On a vote of 16-114, Petersen’s amendment was not adopted, and the underlying amendment was withdrawn.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-Brainerd) sponsor the underlying bill, which proposes allowing Minnesota Management & Budget to negotiate with labor unions to implement furloughs or reductions in hours as an alternative to layoffs. Passed 72-58, the bill now returns to the Senate, where a different version passed 34-27 on April 18.