Minn. child care providers file suit challenging compulsory unionization

Michael P. Tremoglie Jan. 20, 2012, 10:59am

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A group of Minnesota home-based child care providers have filed a federal lawsuit to halt an order forcing them to unionize.

Jennifer Parrish from Rochester filed the suit Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation Legal Defense Foundation.

Gov. Mark Dayton's executive order would designate the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Service Employees International Union officials as the collective bargaining and political representatives of thousands of providers in the state.

This action closely follows a similar lawsuit by home-based child care and personal care providers in Michigan. NRWLDF attorneys argue that such schemes violate the providers' First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, association, and petition of government guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. They claim that the government does not have the power to force citizens to accept the government's choice of union representation.

According to the NRWLDF this campaign is an effort by primarily two unions, AFSCME and the SEIU, to consolidate a segment of the labor market in each state into being represented by one or the other or both of those unions.

"This union boss power grab scheme is nothing more than pure political payback and was popularized by disgraced Governors Gray Davis of California and Rod Blagojevich of Illinois," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. "The forced political association that is occurring in the North Star State as a result of Governor Dayton's dictate is a slap in the face of fundamental American principles we hold dear."

The lawsuit is the second legal challenge to Minnesota's child care provider unionization scheme, but the first in federal court. Another lawsuit filed in state court challenges Dayton's authority to enact the scheme under Minnesota law.

Bill Messenger, a Springfield, Va. lawyer represents twelve home care providers in Minnesota for the NRWLDF. He said that both the SEIU and AFSCME, had made a deal to divide the country between each other with each union taking certain states. A copy of the agreement between AFSCME and the SEIU is included in this article.

"They have done this in sixteen states so far," said Mr. Messenger. "They have succeeded in getting executive orders to have the state home day care providers represented exclusively by the union for purposes of negotiating issues of mutual concern which include how much the state subsidy will be."

Mr. Messenger said that the procedure is for the union and the state's governor will negotiate to establish the subsidy rate and recommend that rate to the legislature to be enacted into law.

"This can only be done where the governor is sympathetic to the union or where there is already a law establishing this.

"Minnesota was divided in half between AFSCME and SEIU," he said. "The Northern counties are ASFCME Council 5 and the southern counties are the SEIU. Michigan was a joint effort between AFSCME and the UAW."

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