Dayton: GOP hearings on child-care unions are wasteful, ‘political ploy’

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Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday that GOP hearings around whether he has the authority to order a vote on union representation for home child-care workers were a “political ploy” from a part-time legislature that’s already drawn out the session.

“I’m well aware of the legal parameters that are available, but that doesn’t dictate policy. But I have a general counsel. I have the Attorney General. I don’t need a legislative show to trot this out,” Dayton told MPR.

Republican legislative leaders are planning hearings on the issue this week. Dayton told reporters that he’s still receiving legal advice regarding his authority to issue this sort of executive order, although governors of other states have ordered similar actions in the past.

Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Matt Dean sent Dayton a letter last week questioning if the governor had authority in this area. “Any unionization of these independent businesses runs contrary to easing [Minnesota families’ financial burdens]. Increased cost would lead to decreases availability, exactly the opposite of what we both want for Minnesota families.”

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, told the Star Tribune that she’s worried the unionization of child-care workers would mean “propaganda,” like craft projects using macaroni noodles to spell out “tax the rich.”

A report by non-partisan House staff last week said the issue of the governor’s authority was cloudy, but that it’s likely that the state’s Bureau of Mediation Services, which typically oversees unionization efforts, doesn’t have jurisdiction over the workers, who are independent contractors.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) say they’ve obtained signed cards supporting the union from close to a majority of the 11,000 home child-care workers since organizing began in 2005.

The unions initially requested that Dayton issue an order recognizing the union, which Dayton denied. He told the Star Tribune that he’d “rather there be an election than have [unionization] imposed on child-care workers and providers.”