Q and A Harris V Quinn and MN Child Care union
Union organizers first started a door knocking campaign in 2005. Both SEIU and AFSCME were competing for signatures and the right to unionize providers. Eventually they went to arbitration and settled on boundaries with SEIU taking the southern half of the state and AFSCME taking the north.
When providers learned of the possibility of involuntary unionization, they worked together and fought back. This coalition was formed and in 2006, we met with Governor Pawlenty's staff. We received a letter from him shortly afterwards insuring us that unionization would not happen as long as he were Governor. We didn't hear from them until Governor Dayton took office in 2011. Both unions ramped up their door to door campaigns and told providers and our associations that the Governor had made a campaign promise to sign an Executive Order that would unionize all 11,000 providers in the state.
Our coalition, along with providers from across the state reached out to the media and pressured Dayton to reconsider. We met with his staff in August of 2011 and the Governor himself in November of 2011. While he did pare down the original Executive Order, he still ordered an election of roughly 4,200 child care providers.
Two separate lawsuits were filed. The first lawsuit filed in state court challenged the Governor's authority to write such an Order. The second lawsuit filed in Federal court shortly afterwards, challenged the unionization scheme as being unconstitutional.
The state lawsuit was heard first and ruled on tossing out the Executive Order on the grounds that the Governor did not have the authority to write law, and that this process, if it were to happen, should go through the legislative process.
The following year, the Minnesota legislature turned over and with a majority of union friendly politicians a child care unionization bill was quickly introduced.
Providers showed up at each hearing to testify against this bill. At times, providers who signed up to testify in opposition were turned away. This bill set a record for the longest floor debate in the Minnesota Senate with a marathon 17 hour overnight session.
Dues: $300 per year, likely to go up once a contract is reached.
Fair share: Yes
Health insurance: No
Contract: Not yet
Union has not been certified as the exclusive representative. No vote has been ordered as of 9/06/2013
An injunction has the current unionization drive on hold. However, we must prepare as though there will be a vote. Here is an outline of the next steps in the union organizing process, should the injunction be lifted.
Step 1: AFSCME/CCPT will collect 500 cards and present them to the state.
Step 2: The state will give AFSCME a list of providers with a current CCAP registration in the last 12 months. They need to collect 30 % of the providers on the list to sign cards and that would spur an election. The cards expire after 6 months and only valid cards will be counted.
Step 3: Ballots will be mailed out to all eligible voters and they usually need to be returned within 2-3 weeks. The state labor board has declined to clarify who will be eligible to vote. For certain, any provider who has received a payment in the 12 months preceding the election will get a vote. It is unclear if those with a current registration in the last 12 months will also get a vote. Only ballots returned are counted so, if only 100 providers send ballots back and 51 are for the union, the union wins. It is imperative that you do not sign any card unless you wish to belong to the union. It is also imperative that you send back your ballot if you are an eligible voter.
Most Recent Developments
May 16, 2014: Eight Circut Court of Appeals in St. Paul three-judge appellate panel hears oral arguments in Parrish v. Dayton.
September, 2013: Parrish V Dayton enjoined and blocks current union drive.
August 6, 2013: Attorney Bill Messenger representing members of this coalition files an appeal, including an injunction to stop the vote until the a judge rules on the grounds of the lawsuit.
July 21, 2013: Judge Davis rules lawsuits are not "ripe"; that the lawsuits were filed too soon, but did not rule on the grounds of the lawsuit. Ruling link
July 18, 2013: Two lawsuits had their first day in court. The Judge heard arguments on two motions. The Governor moved to have both cases dismissed saying they weren't ripe. If the Judge grants this request, it only means that the lawsuits will be thrown out temporarily until the unions file for an election. Then they can be filed again.
The Judge also heard arguments for both lawsuits on the requests for a temporary injunction. Lawyers for both suits asked the court to impose an injunction on the law, which would prevent the unions from filing for an election until the case can be heard and a ruling is made. This would protect providers until the cases are decided.
Our coalition is grateful for the assistance we've received from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and our attorney Bill Messenger, who is an expert on this type of unionization. We look forward to striking down this law in court and potentially freeing providers in other states from forced unionization of their private child care businesses.
What you should know about Minnesota's child care union law.