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DAY CARE UNION: How will vote impact Minn., providers?

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  • DAY CARE UNION: Minn. House passes bill 68-66

    DAY CARE UNION: Minn. House passes bill 68-66

    Monday, May 20 2013 10:03 PM EDT2013-05-21 02:03:01 GMT
    After two days of bitterly contested debate, the Minnesota House passed a bill allowing day care and home care providers to unionize on a 68-66 vote.
    After two days of bitterly contested debate, the Minnesota House passed a bill allowing day care and home care providers to unionize on a 68-66 vote.
  • DAY CARE UNION: Providers debate

    DAY CARE UNION: Providers debate

    Tuesday, May 21 2013 2:07 PM EDT2013-05-21 18:07:59 GMT
    The Minnesota Capitol saw dozens of hours of heated debate on child care unionization, and FOX 9 News spoke with two providers, one for and one against, about the impact.
    The Minnesota Capitol saw dozens of hours of heated debate on child care unionization, and FOX 9 News spoke with two providers, one for and one against, about the impact.

On Monday, lawmakers in the Minnesota House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to allow day care workers to unionize. Gov. Mark Dayton is set to sign it, but what will happen next?

THE VOTE

By a margin of just two votes, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill that already cleared the Senate and would allow day care providers and personal care attendants to unionize. The bill now goes to Gov. Mark Dayton, and he is expected to sign it. 

The state's two largest unions, SEIU and AFSCME, will have four years to convince providers that union membership will be worth their while.

The 12,500 child care workers in Minnesota who look after children in the state's Child Care Assistance Program, known as C-CAP for short, must vote on whether or not to join the union by 2017. At least 50 percent of the state's providers will need to join in order of the union to be established.

Those who do not provide care to C-CAP families will not need to vote and will not be affected.

THE UNION

The union will be able to negotiate reimbursement rates for subsidized clients, and members would have the right to file grievances.

Members will have to pay union dues. In states that already allow day care unions, monthly dues range from $25 to $50 a month. In Minnesota, the monthly dues are projected to be $25.

Although union membership is voluntary in Minnesota, non-members who do accept C-CAP clients would have to pay what is known as a "fair share" fee, which could be up to 85 percent of membership dues.

The day care union bill passed in Minnesota does not afford child care workers the right to strike.

PROVIDER PERSPECTIVE

"I'm ecstatic it passed. It creates opportunity in my profession," Clarrissa Johnston, who has been providing day care for the past 26 years.

After fighting for 10 years, Johnston is glad providers like her will be able to form their own union.

"We take care of children," she said. "I am not a child. I want this opportunity. We would like the opportunity to have a vote with this."

Johnston told FOX 9 News the bill's passage shows lawmakers understand that taking care of children isn't child's play.

"It shows me that legislators respect me as a small business owner and that I can make decisions that drive my niche in this industry," she said.

Laura Gaustad isn't so gung-ho. She opposes unionization and said she worries that she would have to pass the costs of so-called fair share fees onto parents if she ever decides to take on C-CAP kids.

"It's sad because I've been trying to keep my rates low because of the economy," she said.

Some providers opposed to unionization say they may even refuse to work with families who receive subsidies from the state.

"It will limit me for C-CAP children, for those that are on subsidies, because I would never join a union," Elaine Green told FOX 9 News.

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