Many problematic bills have been moving through the legislature during this session.
Among the very worst proposals that the DFL-controlled House is considering is the unionization of in-home private childcare providers. This legislation represents an unprecedented power-grab by AFSCME and their allies to unionize small business owners.
Generally, the purpose of a union is for employees to have a unified voice as they negotiate salary and benefits with their employer. What’s frightening about this proposal is it goes a step further and unionizes small business owners who run in-home childcare centers. Specifically, this legislation targets those childcare providers who accept a subsidy from the state through the Child Care Assistance Program (C-CAP). This program exists to help low-income parents who are working to afford childcare.
Those supporting unionization of childcare providers argue that the ability to collectively bargain will increase wages and, as a result, grow the industry. However, unionization would actually create fewer choices for low-income parents. Many childcare providers who do not want to be unionized or can’t afford it will be forced to reject C-CAP children. Consequently, this will create fewer quality childcare providers who will be able to accept children of hard-working low income parents.
Unionizing childcare providers will also lower the quality of childcare. Through the requirement of paying union dues, taxpayer dollars meant for quality childcare programs will be redirected to union bank accounts and political campaign activities. Many providers are concerned that the deduction of dues would require them to stop accepting childcare assistance families or to make drastic cuts to their childcare programs — reducing the quality of care.
Imposing a union on childcare providers will mean higher costs for all involved. The requirement to pay union dues will force childcare providers to raise rates on working parents or shut down completely. Even those who opt out of joining the union will be forced to pay a fair share union due rate of 85 percent. Profit margins are already relatively small for childcare providers. Forced payment of union dues will hit their bottom line and force them to possibly close down or raise rates on working families.
We have to remember that childcare providers — even the ones who accept state assistance — are small business owners. Forcing these childcare providers to join a union infringes on the right of small business owner to run their business independently. Furthermore, there is no place for politics between Minnesota’s working families and the people who provide care for their children. All childcare providers should be able to provide quality, affordable services to parents without government union interference.
Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo, represents District 39B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Contact her at 651-296-4244, [email protected] or at 239 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN, 55155.