New legislation would give home childcare providers option to unionize


Will union dues be passed on to working parents?



By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


A bill that would authorize home-based childcare providers to vote on whether or not to be in a union is moving through committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The Child Care Collective Bargaining Act was introduced in the Minnesota Senate in February. While supporters say the bill would make child care more affordable for working parents, opponents argue that daycare fees could rise because of union dues.

Mary Albert with children in her in-home childcare
Mary Albert with children in her in-home childcare

State Senator Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis) told the MSR during a Council on Black Minnesotans rally at the State Capitol last month, “I support the unionizing of childcare workers.” He pointed out that the bill does not force childcare workers to join a union, but rather would offer the option of voting if they want a union or not.

“If they do get a union, the union will come in and negotiate with the state on their behalf,” noted Senator Hayden.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Public Affairs Director Jennifer Munt said in a phone interview last week with the MSR that in-home childcare providers “are occupations that have traditionally been undervalued and underpaid.”

AFSCME officials have been lobbying for in-home childcare unionization for several years. “The workers…deserve to collectively bargain with the State to get the respect, support, and the benefits that they need,” said Munt, who concurred with Sen. Hayden. “It is not people being forced to join a union. It is just giving them a vote on whether or not they want to organize a union.”

Mary Albert of St. Paul and Marline Blake of Minneapolis are longtime in-home childcare providers, and both have met with state legislators in support of the bill.

Said Albert, a nine-year childcare provider on St. Paul’s East Side, “We have to go get training…and go through different criteria to get our children ready for kindergarten. I think people that call us babysitters don’t know what we do. I don’t consider myself a babysitter. I consider myself an educator, a mother, a nurse — whatever else they need for their family.

“It is hard because mostly I’m dealing with young parents, young mothers, and they really don’t understand what parenting is all about,” Albert continued. “They need somebody to sit down and talk to them, and encourage them, and give them resources to help them make it.”

Marline Blake (r) testifies in support of the bill to extend collective bargaining rights to childcare providers in Minnesota; Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Center) is at left. Photos courtesy of AFSCME Council 5
Marline Blake (r) testifies in support of the bill to extend collective bargaining rights to childcare providers in Minnesota; Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Center) is at left.
Photos courtesy of AFSCME Council 5

“We don’t just plop the children in front of the television or play all day,” added Blake, a North Minneapolis childcare provider for over 10 years. “We educate our children from six weeks old until they enter school, and the latchkey children that we serve.”

Speaking with lawmakers at the capitol “has been an eye-opener” for Blake. “I think it was very important to really help to educate the lawmakers about the processes and our daily activities and how important child care is for our community, parents, children and the providers of child care.

“[In-home] childcare providers are safe, we are affordable, and we are accessible to the families that we serve within our community,” continued Blake. “That’s the number-one thing we have to convince all the others that are not aware of what we do.”

Although the bill doesn’t affect privately run operations, School Readiness Learning Academy Director Monique Stumon nonetheless expressed concerns about unionizing. “Where does the additional money come from?” she asked. “Parents are barely paying what the rates are now. What I think would end up happening is that [any additional costs] will be passed down to the parents. I think [a child care union] can both help and hurt, but I don’t know what would be best.”

Phyllis Sloan, the executive director of La Crèche Early Childhood Centers, Inc., added that unionization might someday become an issue for nonprofit childcare centers such as hers. “To have the State or the government in position of dictating unionization or not, I don’t feel that would be supportive at this time. There’s much that the State could do to be supportive” of childcare providers, early childhood and school-readiness programs, she believes.

Albert, Blake and Munt all believe the childcare union bill will be approved by the DFL-controlled state legislature this session.

“It’s always a party-line vote,” Munt said. “Democrats vote to give workers the right to vote on unionization…and the Republicans want to deny them that right. I would argue [that] at a time when half of our kids aren’t prepared for school and many of them are living in poverty or [with] poor nutrition, and when our achievement gap is greater here than in Mississippi, we need to focus on the poor kids who need the most help.”

Albert added, “We just want everybody to be treated right and be treated equal. I believe we will do it this year.”

If passed, the childcare union bill “will be a huge milestone for us,” stated Blake. “It will help us a lot to provide more services for families.

“We want the bill passed,” Blake concluded, “because it will help a lot of people. We need to have a voice at the table when people are discussing childcare needs and childcare issues.”


Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokes


20 Comments on “New legislation would give home childcare providers option to unionize”

  1. So will the #300+ per year dues be passed along to the families?? That question was never answered in the article.

    Where will that $300 come from??

    AFSCME, we are dying to know.

  2. “It’s always a party-line vote,” Munt said. “Democrats vote to give workers the right to vote on unionization…and the Republicans want to deny them that right” UMMMM, excuse me but isnt it the DFL/union that does want to ALLOW everyone to VOTE!!! Who wants to give who “rights”, I think it starts with ALL LICENSED PRVIDERS BEING ALLOWED TO VOTE!!

  3. Any group forcing unionization on privately owner/operator business is a terrible idea! To say it would not raise fees and limit quality childcare in MN to Child Care assistance families is a flat out lie. My licensed childcare would nolonger accept those famlies because the increase in rate would be directly passed onto them. Rules are whatever the State doesnt cover the parent is responsible for, so that would include fees such as union dues. It is difficult already for the families in these circumstances without added beurocratic burdens. Also, allowing non-licensed providers the right to collect CCAP payments without background checks, licensing requirements, reimbursement payments, yearly education or mandated checks as licensed providers but to shelter them with a union that licensed providers do not want is a horrible idea. It saddens me that this will not come to a vote of all the providers in MN.

  4. It’s unfortunate that they did not even report about those 86% of Mn providers who are opposed to the union. And the fact that only State paid licensed daycare providers along with unlicensed providers will get to vote. I think in all fairness the other side of this story should be written. Very few are for this union that the DfL’s are pushing to go though without even so much as listening to providers across the state saying “no union”. Taking money out of providers pockets does nothing good for anyone. Not parents, providers and all the teaching tools proivders must buy.. Be fair report both sides.

  5. There is so much wrong with this. They ARE forcing a Union. They are NOT allowing everyone to vote. Providers DO NOT want to be Unionized. Ones that do, are. 57 out of over 9,000 have chsen to do so over 6 years. I’m pretty sure that means it is not wanted.

  6. ALL THIS IS WRONG!! I am NOT underpaid. I DON’T NEED a VOICE, I HAVE MY OWN,it has worked for me to be UNION FREE for thirteen years!! I’ve sent letters to my representatives they obviously ARE NOT listening or doing ANYTHING TO HELP US THAT ARE AGAINST THIS UNION MESS!! Prices going down for parents is hog wash!!Who will give you the difference in your pay, the Union? I doubt it!! WE ARE DAYCARE PROVIDERS WANTING TO BE UNION FREE!!

  7. What a joke this bill is–we already have the right to unionize–it’s optional now for those who want it–but only 57 out of 11,000 want it. And yes, I will be forced to unionize because if the vote passes because I have a child in my care on assistance. I refuse to pay money to the union so that family will be out of care for their child–how is this good for the families of our state? I could go on and on. The majority of providers are loud and vocal that we don’t want this but democrats refuse to listen or even return emails. The union has refused to answer my questions. And this is who would represent me? I think not!

  8. A rather one-sided article I would say. Considering that almost everyone quoted in this article, including child care providers, are receiving funding from AFSMCE to organize, it is understandable they want the union. We don’t deny workers the right to organize. However, I am not a worker, I am a self-employed business owner who is also a democrat. I am frustrated that the democrats cant support my right to stay that way. If there is a vote, not all those who will be affected are included in the vote. How is that right? The unionizing is about Child Care Subsidy. Any provider can provide care for these families. Not all providers get to vote to establish, or not, this union. Really?

  9. I would like to know what services “specifically”would be provided for families if there were a union? Where are the monies coming from? No one is answering these questions in detail. Until that happens, how can anyone vote for unionization? Please, Democrats, answer these questions for us and all families involved because how I see it, there is no money in the state, and that means that providers will have to increase their rates and charge parents more to offset the cost of union dues, which by the way, haven’t been set that I am aware of. What would it cost to be a part of this wonderful union that is going to give so much for the families and Childcare providers?

  10. We don’t need any law passed to allow providers to join a union. We already can if we want, but only 57 have joined out of 11,000 LICENSED childcare providers. This law will cause increased rates to all parents, it will cause providers to refuse to take children with CCAP benefits because they have to be unionized to receive them, and the union and the governor are the only ones that will be able to make any rules that apply to our childcare businesses. I think that’s ridiculous because they have NO IDEA what it’s like to run a childcare!!! This proposed law needs to be thrown out!!!!

  11. It is interesting that none of the comments that readers have posted on this article are being shared. Actually it is sad, and shows that this article is only written to deceive readers about the truth of the situation. I know of 20 or so people that have commented, yet none of the comments up.

  12. Thank you for posting the comments! This article is not representing the picture correctly. Child care providers ALREADY HAVE THE OPTION to unionize. Only 57 have actively chosen to join a union. This bill would force the rest of providers that accept child care assistance from the state to join a union even though 87% of licensed providers are opposed to it. It will take money away from families that need the assistance and give $3 + million to the union.

  13. I would be against this bill, too, if all the comments on this page where true. Lucky, all of the information in the comment section isn’t factual. Thanks to the Recorder for giving an outlet for the voices of providers like Ms. Albert and Ms. Blake who are courageously speaking up for others who know having a union will without a doubt lift all aspects of child care.

    1. Lisa, so it’s not true that AFSCME would become the sole negotiator with the state of Minnesota for child care issues?

      Is it not true that AFSCME paid organizers went out across the state and lied to day care providers about “getting more information” when they were actually signing their names in support of forming a union?

      Lisa, your lies will be repudiated every step of the way. We are all watching what AFSCME is doing (media, day care providers) and we will not sit idly while you ram this obnoxious legislation through the House and Senate!

    2. Lisa Thompson- you would be against this bill if the union wasn’t padding your pockets to tell so many lies! Do you have any morals? I hope you don’t pass it on to your children. You know fully well that if your pay is so horrible you can raise it. You may struggle getting children at first but if you are an awesome provider you will stay full with a waiting list as I have with costs above the average in my area. Pull up your big girl panties and run your business yourself.

  14. Lisa Thompson, while you’re at it tell Donald McFarland that he needs to answer my questions that I sent his way.

    After all, AFSCME pays money to his company as a media spokesperson, right?

    Is he doing his job? Does he respond to media inquiries or does he just collect money for nothing from AFSCME union-paying members???

  15. Lisa, here’s a comment on the Star Tribune editorial you need to read and answer. Yes, as a paid spokesperson for AFSCME it is your duty to answer questions when they’re asked of you. Don’t hide behind third-party media groups who never respond to questions or dodge interviews. You need to fulfill your obligation to explain what will happen if AFSCME succeeds in forcing fair share dues on all child care providers in Minnesota who have CCAP-enrolled families.

    “Unions won’t help our state’s children. If daycare providers are forced to join a union in order to take families receiving CCA, how many providers are going to want to take those families if they’re going to have to pay monthly union dues? These families may have a very difficult time finding care for their children. So where does that leave those kids?”

  16. Lisa, what is it you see isn’t factual? I don’t see a comment before yours that is unfactual. The only thing unfactual is the article itself. I’m not being mean, I genuinely would like to know what it is you believe is not factual.

Comments are closed.