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Dayton orders day care union vote; GOP to sue

Sen. David Hann tells reporters at mid-day Monday that he and other Republicans plan to sue Gov. Mark Dayton over the Democrat's decision to hold a vote so day care providers can decide if they want to be unionized. Photo by Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau1 / 2
Josh Tilsen, head of the state Mediation Services Bureau, explains how an election will be held next month to allow day care providers to unioinize. With him is Gov. Mark Dayton. Photo by Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau2 / 2

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday ordered an election to allow child care providers to vote whether they want a union representing them.

Republicans immediately said they will go to court to prevent next month's vote.

Dayton said child care providers who receive state subsidies asked him to unilaterally order union representation to improve their wages and working conditions. However, he said, the American way is to conduct an election.

The vote will happen next month, with results to be announced Dec. 21.

Dayton's executive order provides for the election, but even if more than half of the day care providers vote to allow unionization, no provider is required to join or pay dues.

"The fairest way, and the American way, to settle this dispute is to have an election, where all people directly affected will have an opportunity to vote," Dayton said.

Republicans said the executive order amounts to giving the right to decide child care provider pay to unions, tkaing it away from the Legislature.

"It is just another merry Christmas gift," Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said.

Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said he expects to quickly go to court to stop the election.

"What do you do with a governor who won't follow the law?" Hann said, adding that Senate lawyers say Dayton's executive order is not allowed under state law.

Hann, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee chairman, could not say whether the Senate, Republican Party or someone else would pay for the court action.

Dayton said his lawyer saw no legal problems with the order, but Attorney General Lori Swanson has not issued a definitive opinion.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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.