Westrom revises unionization claims

Last week, PoliGraph gave Rep. Torrey Westrom a false rating for his claim that in-home child care providers who are not allowed to vote on whether to unionize will be forced to pay fair-share dues.

That’s because Gov. Mark Dayton has been clear on how he wants his executive order allowing child care providers to unionize to be executed: no one would have to join the union if they don’t want to, and because day care providers are not considered public employees, they would not have to pay fair share dues.

Westrom’s claim was made in a letter to constituents on Dec. 2.

But in a second letter dated Dec. 15, Westrom is revising his claim. Here’s what he wrote:

I would like to correct an inadvertent error made in the December 2nd letter regarding how the childcare union election may affect you. The second paragraph of that letter should have stated: “All child care providers may have to live with the decisions of a union, but only the 4,287 providers who receive state subsidies will vote on its formation. The other 7,000 providers may be forced to pay “fair share” union dues, and could be subject to additional regulation, even though they were denied the right to vote in this election.

You can read the rest of the letter here.

Westrom makes reasonable arguments that Dayton’s executive order does not guarantee that the unions won’t try to collect such dues in the future, or necessarily prevent a court from deciding in the future that such dues could be collected (see the comments section of the previous PoliGraph post).

But despite that uncertainty – and PoliGraph agrees that there are some important unanswered questions about how unionization would play out – right now, we know that those who don’t want to be in the union won’t have to pay dues because they are not considered public employees.

PoliGraph will be keeping tabs on the issue to see if that changes.

  • Doug Snapp

    Unfortunately, the Governor’s executive order does not guarantee anything, and this article contradicts itself.

    A) The Governor’s executive order does not prevent unions from attempting to collect fair share dues. It makes a cursory reference to a common feature of American labor law – that no one can be forced to join against their will – but that has nothing to do with whether a union, if formed, could seek fair share dues.

    B) Fair share dues are not a feature exclusive to public sector unions. The cited section of statute is not a guarantee against a union seeking fair share dues because it’s not the law that would govern this type of union (no one knows whether it’s federal or state law because the Governor, AFSCME and SEIU have not said what law covers this type of independent contractor).

    C) Union contracts can be written broadly, and in this case, the duties negotiated in contract could include common benefit to all child care providers. This would provide a basis for seeking fair share dues down the road.

    D) If the Governor wanted to prevent that from happening, his executive order could be written with specificity to preclude the remaining 7,000 child care providers from having to pay fair share dues.

    E) Even if the Governor did that, it still wouldn’t be a guarantee that the 7,000 wouldn’t have to pay fair share dues, because an executive order is not law and the union could ignore it in writing their contract.

    F) It’s false to say that “right now, we know that those who don’t want to be in the union won’t have to pay dues because they are not considered public employees” because of the foregoing.

    G) Also based on the foregoing, it’s contradictory to say the Governor’s made clear his intent for the executive order, therefore we know they won’t have to pay fair share dues because when it comes time to set up the union the Governor’s intent not written into the order, and the order is basically a suggestion, not a command.