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Child-care workers plan suit to stop union election

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ST. PAUL -- Eleven Minnesota day-care providers, supported by a coalition of conservative groups, today announced they plan to sue to stop a governor-ordered unionization election.

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Attorney Tom Revnew said his clients seek an injunction to stop the election, set to begin next week, asking nearly 4,300 in-home day-care providers if they want to join a union. He said state law does not give Gov. Mark Dayton authority to issue an executive order that set up the election.

Ballots are to be sent out on Dec. 7, and day-care providers have two weeks to return them.

"There is no state authority to allow Gov. Dayton to order this election," Revnew said this morning, adding that the lawsuit was expected to be filed later today in Ramsey County District Court.

Union elections, Revnew added, are for employees. However, the Dayton-ordered vote is for day-care providers who consider themselves business owners.

The attorney did not release a copy of the suit to reporters when he made his announcement.

Revnew and Dakota County day-care provider Becky Swanson said that besides the lack of legal authority, Dayton's Nov. 15 order leaves out 60 percent of day-care providers.

Dayton ordered the election to involve 4,300 providers who receive state subsidies, but Swanson said that would leave the rest of the 11,000 home day-care providers without representation.

The governor's order said that the unions would be allowed to discuss issues with state agencies. Although Dayton said that did not stop other providers from talking to the state, Swanson said that she fears that she would lose her voice.

Dan McGrath of Minnesota Majority said his organization is providing some funding for the court action, saying the group is interesting in stopping "government overreach."

The lawsuit seeks to stop the election, as well as declaring Dayton's order to be void.

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