State Senate passes union bill after all-night debate

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill this morning allowing the unionization of home child-care workers and personal care assistants. The debate lasted 17 hours.

The vote was 35-32, with four Democrats joining Republicans in opposition. They were DFL Sens. Terri Bonoff-Minnetonka, Greg Clausen-Apple Valley, Melissa Fanzen-Edina and Bev Scalze-Little Canada.

The bill allows the two groups of workers to decide separately whether to join unions and then bargain collectively with the state for higher subsidies. During the floor debate, Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said that her bill would simply remove state law as a barrier to the process of unionization.

“It’s unfair to require more barriers and more steps for people who want to be in a union,” Pappas said. “They have a right to do that. That have a right to choose. It’s all about a right to choose. If they choose not to, they will vote against it, and it will be defeated.”

Republicans uniformly blasted the bill as government overreach. They also argued that union representation is unnecessary for providers who are essentially self-employed.

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said she believes the bill will result in fewer choices and higher costs for child care.

“Those not wishing to be unionized will no longer accept children from low-income parents who are receiving taxpayer subsidies for child care,” Nelson said. “I think that will be tragic for families. It will be tragic for children, and it will be a tragic development for child care providers.”

The debate went much longer than Democrats expected. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said after the marathon session that he was deeply disappointed by the “anti-union” opposition from Republicans.

“I think there’s a reason they’re in the minority,” Bakk said. “I think they’ve lost touch with most Minnesotans, and they’re at some risk of becoming just the party of the wealthy.”

Bakk said he expects similar GOP tactics in the coming days to slow down budget bills and try to force a special session. The session is scheduled to adjourn Monday at midnight.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, did not deny turning to a slow-down strategy.

“It’s not our fault that they have not got their budget bills done,” Hann. “If they run out of time, that’s not our problem.”

Hann said he believes the unionization bill was a clear case of Democrats paying back their political allies in organized labor for last year’s campaign donations.

The bill now heads to the Minnesota House, where a vote could come as early as Saturday.

  • Nicole groschenn

    After 12 years as a home childcare provider I am leaving. After many weeks of self reflection the main reason is the threat of union and how it may impact my ability to provide the care at the level I would expect at a cost that is affordable! What a joke. I have ran a successful daycare for over a decade, have a BA from the U of Mn and have continued educating myself, and have done this all without the help of a union. We have our own childcare network in Chisago county that organizes training that is needed and required. We are a tight knit group of self employee individuals who’s rights are being stripped away because of payback!!! I’m ashamed of our leaders for not understanding or caring about the ramifications this union will have on the business of home child care, the families they serve, and most importantly the children that we work with day in and day out!!!!

  • Nicole groschenn

    After 12 years as a home childcare provider I am leaving the profession. After much reflection as to what i should do the main reason is the threat of unionization and how it may impact my ability to provide the care at the level I would expect at a cost that is affordable! What a joke. I have ran a successful daycare for over a decade, have a BA from the U of Mn and have continued educating myself, andhave done this all without the help of a union. We have our own childcare network in Chisago county that organizes training that is needed and required. We are a tight knit group of self employed individuals who’s rights are being stripped away because of payback!!! I’m ashamed of our leaders for not understanding or caring about the ramifications this union will have on the business of home child care, the families they serve, and most importantly the children that we work with day in and day out!!!!

  • Glenn Anderson

    To Mr. Tom Bakk,DFL, Cook, I can’t believe what you said about only wealthy people being opposed to your tax bill, I’m not wealthy, and I don’t like the state spending more money than they bring in,,,,, but your answer to the issue is always more taxes, i’m tired of it, at what point do you say ENOUGH! !!!!!, I feel all of you are out of touch with the commoner’s in our state

  • Herbert Davis,Jr.

    I am glad that the right to unionize will be left up to those who will vote on what happens.

    Sen. Bakk and the Dems deserve credit for standing on principle while the obstructionist GOP trakes it cues from the federal politicians who are also anti-government and anti-union.

    This almost makes up for being silent about Bradley Manning and the lack of torture prosecutions!

  • Let workes choose

    So great that the legislature has given people the choice to choose. Thank you!!!!!!!!

  • DiEtte

    Unfortunately, if this bill gets by the House it isn’t all daycare providers that get to choose. ONLY the providers currently getting CCAP (assistance from the state from low-income families) get to vote. I’m a licensed provider and do not have any clients on assistance so my voice and my vote doesn’t count. Still sound fair? I’m self-employed. Self-employment and union membership are oxymorons!

  • Randy Olson

    Herbert Davis, you have no idea what you’re talking about. All you say is liberal talking points, but you have no idea the terrible ramifications this legislation has for low-income families who depend on the Child Care subsidy program. I just laugh at your comments when they blatantly ignore the anti-democratic fact that not all licensed child care providers will even get to vote on this issue.

    Herbert, how would you feel if only people in a certain income or a certain race could vote? That’s exactly what this DFL-sponsored legislation calls for: cherry-picking what providers get to vote on the issue.

  • P. Johnson

    We are a family which relies on PCAs to help care for one of our children. This over stepping of government will greatly impact our choices to keep control of who provides care. We will also be stripped of choosing which training and education is necessary for our family, and that decision will be unionized. Once again this shows a huge disconnect of our MN politicians and the common Minnesotan.

  • Bob Petersen

    This is not about a democratic choice when not all are invited to vote. The DFL whined on the photo ID requirement because it ‘disenfranchised’ voters. How sad is it when they don’t let all day care providers vote on something that is just lining union pockets.

  • Dan Canniff

    This Is Nothing But a Power Grab by The Socialist party (DFL) , Union Dues will be all funneled into the DFL coffers and has Nothing to do with better child care , The DFL is shameless and will Never receive my Vote ! Forcing Child care workers to pay Dues is just wrong anyway you look at it! Even if they decide to not to be part of the Union they Still will have to pay :(

    If i was a Day Care Provider I would start a Class Action Law suite against the State Over this !