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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton Orders Unionization of Child Care Providers

The NLRB’s pro-union bias and penchant for overstepping legal precedent has spread to Minnesota. Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) issued an executive order calling for a vote to unionize child care providers. The move is an unapologetic sop to Big Labor. As reported by ChildCareFreedom.com, “Governor Dayton reportedly made a promise to union leaders to sign the executive order in exchange for their support in the last election.”

Gov. Dayton’s E.O. is legally tenuous and excludes a majority of child care providers from the voting process.

First and foremost, Gov. Dayton’s executive powers do not extend to mandating union elections. Considering that child care providers are independent small business owners, they are not even subject to collective bargaining arrangements.

To unionize a class of workers, Minnesota’s Labor Relations Act calls for a majority of workers to vote for union representation. In the vote to unionize child care providers, the majority of workers are excluded from voting. Out of 11,000 child care providers, less than 4,300 are eligible to vote. Eligible voters are state-licensed and -subsidized child care providers. To make matters worse Minnesota is a forced-unionism state. Gov. Dayton's E.O. is unclear if the 6,000-plus child care providers ineligible to vote will be forced to pay their "fair share" dues to the unions. Given Gov. Dayton's history of union favoritism, there is little doubt compulsory dues will be forced on all child care providers.

Putting aside clear legal violations, Gov. Dayton’s E.O. is disingenuous at best. Executive Order 11-31 describes child care providers as “invaluable services to working parents and guardians… and are particularly well-suited to meet families’ needs, by providing flexible hours and schedules… the State is committed to improving the quality, accessibility, and affordability of early childhood education services.”

Allowing unionization of child care providers contradicts the governor’s order. A well documented detrimental product of unionization is less flexibility. Union contracts do not allow for flexibility (without lavish benefits). Families have ever-changing schedules that will conflict with union contracts. A likely outcome: an increase of unfair labor practices. Unfair labor practices will lead to increased litigation, escalating child care costs.

A number of families can only afford child care through subsides awarded by the state. Gov. Dayton's E.O. not only restricts availability of child care to family's in need, it forces the taxpayer to bear the added expenses from unionized child care.

If Minnesota’s desired outcome is to provide affordable child care, Gov. Dayton must rescind his executive order. Unionization requires forced dues payment, loss of worker rights, and restricts entry into markets. Reducing providers and making child care a less attractive industry for potential entrepreneurs are steps in the wrong direction. Maintaining worker rights and freedom to choose will afford Minnesotan’s ample quality child care. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton’s choice will deny widespread access to affordable child care in Minnesota in order to line the pockets of Big Labor.