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Minnesota Notebook : Judge considers unionization of home childcare workers

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ST. PAUL — A federal judge is considering whether a union organizing effort should continue among Minnesota’s home childcare workers.

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Judge Michael Davis Thursday heard the state defend the law and opponents say the unionization movement should be halted.

The 2013 Legislature passed and Gov. Mark Dayton signed legislation to allow nearly 13,000 Minnesotans who host day cares in their homes, and receive state subsidies, to join unions. Supporters said that would give the childcare workers more say when the state adopts new rules and decides how much to pay.

But Republicans, such as Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, say that private businesses such as childcare providers should not be part of unions.

"This court hearing is the first step to remedy the injustice done by Democrats in St. Paul to the hardworking childcare providers and parents of Minnesota," Franson said. "As a former childcare provider, I know firsthand we don’t need big union bosses increasing costs and creating fewer options for the care of our precious children."

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said he supports childcare providers who are fighting the new law "in arguing that they are private business owners, not public employees. Gov. Mark Dayton and Democrat legislators chose to ignore this fact when they sided with union bosses in trying to force unionization."

Dayton said that a judge who overturned his attempt to allow unionization on his own said the decision should be up to the Legislature. The Legislature, dominated by Democrats, opted to follow Dayton’s lead and allow unionization.

"There is a lot of right wing money from all over the country that is going into this fight," Dayton said.

That money is fighting the objective of giving people the right "to decide for themselves," he said.

Franken provision noted

President Barack Obama on Thursday praised a provision that limits how much health insurers may spend for administration costs, marketing, profits and top officials’ salaries.

The provision, written by U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., limits such spending to about 20 percent of premiums. Insurance companies that do not meet the mandate must rebate money to customers.

"Consumers’ premium dollars shouldn’t be spent on marketing or huge bonuses for executives; they should go toward paying for actual health care," Franken said.

"Last year, millions of Americans opened letters from their insurance companies — but instead of the usual dread that comes from getting a bill — they were pleasantly surprised with a check," Obama told a White House audience during a Thursday health-care speech. "In 2012, 13 million rebates went out, in all 50 states. Another 8.5 (million) rebates are being sent out this summer, averaging around 100 bucks each."

Pheasant opener set

This year’s governor’s pheasant hunting opener is headed to the south-central community of Madelia.

The Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday it will be Oct. 11 and 12.

Madelia City Administrator Dan Madsen said there are 8,600 acres of public hunting land within 20 miles of Madelia.

Previous hunting openers for the relatively new event have been in Montevideo and Marshall.

Gov. Mark Dayton plans to participate.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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