Appeals court lifts child care union roadblock

A federal appeals court today cleared the way for a unionization effort among state-subsidized child care providers to move forward.

The 8th District Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling made by a judge last summer to dismiss two lawsuits aimed at stopping the union. One challenge claimed a violation of state labor law, while the other claimed an infringement on First Amendment rights of free association. U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said then that the plaintiffs claims were premature.

The ruling today lifts an injunction and allows the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 5 to seek a statewide election among an estimated 12,700 child care providers. AFSCME did not immediately comment on the ruling.

But one of the plaintiffs said the legal fight against unionization will continue.  Jennifer Parrish, a child care provider in Rochester, said she plans to file another lawsuit once the union election process begins.

“We firmly believe that this is unconstitutional,” Parrish said. “It is a violation of our First Amendment rights, and we are not going to stop fighting this until that issue is fully addressed.”

Parrish is getting legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which also filed a lawsuit earlier this week to stop a union election among 26,000 in-home personal care assistants (PCAs). State officials are scheduled to mail out ballots for that election tomorrow.

The latest Minnesota activity comes a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that PCAs in Illinois cannot be forced to pay fair share union dues.


Clarissa Johnston, a pro-union child care provider from Mounds View, said in an AFSCME news release that justice won’t be served until child care providers can vote. She also said she isn’t worried about another lawsuit from opponents.

“Each time they sue, it strengthens our resolve,” Johnston said. “We won’t rest until every worker has a voice on the job.  It’s the only proven way for caregivers to improve their lives and the lives of the families in our care.”





    Child care providers and PCAs do vital work and we deserve the chance to form a union of our own. These attacks on unions are destroying the founding principles of our country: One person – one vote. People who support unions (like our ‘united states’ btw) know that the real danger to freedom is unbalanced power based on the haves and the have-nots.

    • Randy Olson

      Lisa, it’s pretty reprehensible that with the stroke of a pen Governor Dayton automatically reclassified independent business owners as government employees. It’s a move that won’t go unchallenged. (But you already know that.)

  • Randy Olson

    The AFSCME organizers better remember to stay away from child care businesses at breakfast time, feeding time and nap time. But I wouldn’t expect them to change their ways.