Lawmakers urge Dayton take provider concerns seriously

Lohmer one of 4 GOP legislators signing letter to governor


District 39B Rep. Kathy Lohmer was one of four Republican state lawmakers who urged Gov. Mark Dayton to take child-care providers concerns about unionization “more seriously” in a letter to the governor Thursday.

Signing the letter with Lohmer were Reps. Tara Mack of Apple Valley, Mary Franson of Alexandria and Cindy Pugh of Chanhassen.

The four sent their letter to Dayton about a week after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction against implementation of the state law allowing child-care workers to unionize that was challenged in court by some care providers.
“Basically, what the appeals court said is that we’re going to put this law on hold until a challenge to a similar law in Illinois is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Lohmer spokesman Peter Glessing.

In the letter, the four lawmakers said they were disappointed with what they termed Dayton’s “vitriolic rhetoric” against child-care providers trying to protect their businesses from government intrusion and union employee organizations.

“When providers first sued to block the unionization law, you dismissively remarked that they were ‘throwing their little fits trying to throw sand in the machinery.’ This is incredibly offensive to a group of people that have built their lives from caring for other people’s children,” the lawmakers write. “It is also patronizing and condescending toward the female providers who brought the lawsuit.”

Lohmer and the other lawmakers also criticized Dayton for calling child-care providers opposing the unionization law as “extremists.”

“They are independent business owners who are frustrated by the Democrats’ attempt to force a vote that could result in losing earnings to union dues and reducing their control over how their business is run,” the letter said.

The four lawmakers write that providers challenging the state law have “legitimate” claims about whether federal labor law prohibits the state from classifying child-care providers as state employees because part of their clients’ payment includes child-care assistance funds.

“If this aggression toward child-care providers is to stand, we fear for other independent business owners who indirectly receive some state benefit,” they write.

The letter also criticizes Dayton for claiming the providers suing to stop the state law were funded that national conservative groups wanting to stifle unions. It goes on to say the four lawmakers have met with bipartisan child-care providers opposed to the unionization law.

“It is ironic that you would question the legal funding for these small business owners who want to protect themselves when your campaign takes massive amounts of money from the public sector unions who supported and urged the legislation allowing them to unionize people who are not public employees,” the legislators write.

The lawmakers add that Dayton’s reaction to the providers’ lawsuit illustrates why California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation passed by Golden State legislators.

“If the unionization effort prevails, many providers could end up with unwanted representation that will be negotiating against a governor that clearly holds them in contempt.

“We urge you to take provide concerns more seriously. Instead of insulting them, we expect you to engage them in a manner more becoming the Office of the Governor of Minnesota,” the group writes.

Contact Erik Sandin at [email protected]