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Published November 16, 2011, 10:04 PM

Some MN Childcare Providers Oppose Vote To Join Union

CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Governor Mark Dayton is ordering Minnesota's home-based childcare providers to vote on whether to form a union. But Republican lawmakers immediately promised to sue in order to prevent the vote, questioning the legality of Dayton's order.

CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Governor Mark Dayton is ordering Minnesota's home-based childcare providers to vote on whether to form a union. But Republican lawmakers immediately promised to sue in order to prevent the vote, questioning the legality of Dayton's order.

Only licensed home-based childcare providers who receive some type of child care subsidy from the state will be eligible to vote. Providers who can't vote are unsure of what will happen to them if the vote passes.

"We're in limbo. We have no clue what's going to happen," Crookston childcare provider Kim Feiro said.

Kim Feiro is just one of an estimated 11,000 licensed home-based child care providers in Minnesota. But she says she isn't the only one who opposes joining a union.

"The majority of providers have said no to unions, but they're not listening to the majority. They're listening to just a few providers who say 'Oh maybe, yeah maybe unions might be a good thing'," Feiro said.

She says yesterday's executive order from Dayton scares her. She's worried that less than half the state's providers will decide everyone's fate.

"Why can't everyone vote? We all have an opinion," Feiro added.

Union representatives have been pushing to unionize the providers for six years. And they've returned to Polk County.

"But they're not being truthful and again that's the frustration. And they're intimidating providers and that's not the way to go about this business either," Feiro said.

Governor Dayton said that if a union is authorized, membership would be voluntary. He also said providers that operate solely on private funds will not be affected by the vote. Feiro is worried that may not be true.

"But once the union gets the foothold, that's not saying that we would not be required to be in the union," Feiro said.

If all home-based child care in Minnesota is unionized, Feiro says operating costs will increase. Those costs could be passed on to families, and some providers could even go out of business.

"Look at my children. What are these families going to do?" Feiro asked.

Providers who are eligible to vote should receive ballots in their mailboxes by the end of November. Results should be known by the middle of December.

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