Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dayton Daycare Diorama Part 1

Recent moves by Governor Dayton, and the Unions to whom he owes many campaign debts, to force a vote on independent daycare unionization have been met with many complaints from the people they claim to want to help. Including a recent lawsuit contesting his authority to force such a vote by executive order.
But what problem is this trying to address?  Is there a problem with regulations or licensing?  Are there unfair practices from the management?  That imply a duality of worker/owner being unfair to themselves, which seems an unlikely case. 

Despite the objections raised, Governor Mark Dayton has forged ahead with plans that seem designed to help Unions get their Yes vote, while (or by) simultaneously disenfranchising as many individuals as possible.

Governor Dayton moving toward the direction of a vote for only providers serving CCAP families
11/11/2011 Licensed Family Child Care Providers met with Governor Dayton Thursday night, November 10, to express their opposition to the unionization of their businesses.

Governor Dayton informed providers that he is moving in the direction of signing an Executive Order establishing a vote including only Licensed Family Child Care Providers who are currently providing services to families on the child care assistance program (CCAP). This would make the overwhelming majority of licensed providers ineligible to vote. His intention is that union membership would be voluntary and the unions would only involve those licensed providers serving families who receive subsidies from the child care assistance program. It was indicated that this would be a small starting point and could be expanded in the future.

In a leaked email memo, distributed to DFL members of the Minnesota House, obtained by the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, and featured in a 5 Eyewitness News investigation, it was revealed that the “voluntary” would not be that voluntary.  It acknowledges the possibility/probabilty of forcing non-union members to pay fair-share fees, most of the “dues” with none of the voting privileges. Further  significant issues that Governor Dayton and the Unions have decided to either ignore or violate on the path to forcing this election, have been raised in studies at the Capital.

Legal Questions Could Jeopardize Minnesota Daycare Union Push
11/02/2011 A new Capitol study raises serious legal questions.
The House research study questions whether it is legal to unionize 11,000 daycare workers across Minnesota. Home daycare providers are considered independent contractors. The study says federal law specifically excludes independent contractors from forming a union.

The study also indicates taxes might have to be raised to cover any increases in state subsidies to daycare providers if there is a union, which then could bargain with the state for more taxpayer subsidies.

A position statement of the National Association for Family Child Care
Adopted July 2006
Best Practices for Family Child Care Union Organizing
The Issue: Family child care providers are being organized in an increasing number of states by several national unions that want to represent providers in collective bargaining with the state agencies regulating child care and funding child care subsidy programs. Because family child care providers do not fit any existing union workforce models, a new model must be established.

So this represents a radical change in workforce unions (as the leaked memo also states).  The people who operate daycare centers are private independent contractors.  They do not work for the state, nor for a corporation.  There is no “employer” for the union operatives to “negotiate” with for arbitration, and no particular need for such negotiation.  The private contractor discusses the work with a potential client, and has the right and authority to make the decision to accept or reject the work.  Will that even be the same under a Union?  Would they have the option to not take a client?  Daycare providers have said that Union workers, trying to get cards signed by the daycare workers, have employed devious methods to get signatures to use to support unionization. 

Detroit Lakes Online
November 25, 2011 On Monday night, about a dozen day care providers in Becker County met to discuss what the vote could mean for them.
“What it comes down to, he had no right to do this and he did,” Jane Young, of Frazee, said of Dayton.
Providers say that those trying to organize the union have been “underhanded” in showing up at lunchtime at their daycares and not identifying who they are. Instead, they ask providers to sign a card, asking for more information. But, they believe it was actually a way to get signatures saying they supported joining a union.
One new twist being added to this year’s vote — the issue also went to a vote and failed in 2006 — is that only those day cares receiving state subsidies can vote on becoming unionized.
That means only about 4,000 of the 11,000 daycare providers will receive the mail-in ballots.
Provider Terrie Boyd, of Detroit Lakes, said that whether or not a daycare has families that are subsidized is “always fluid though” because a family might use assistance, but then they leave and there are no assisted families at that provider.
And, the providers pointed out, it’s the families being subsidized, not the daycare providers.
Regardless, next month, those 4,287 providers with a vote will vote yes or no on a union.  Membership will be voluntary if providers approve the unionization.
Some Becker County providers are saying the vote is highly unfair and that the state and unions are limiting the number of voters in order to pass the vote in favor of unionization.
Dayton Won't Revise Child Care Union Vote Order
Monday, 21 Nov 2011 "I am one of more than half the child care providers in Minnesota who do not get a vote, but the union seat at the table with DHS to discuss things like license regulations, rating system training, payment rates, et cetetera, will -- in turn -- affect the same rules that govern my private business," said Dina Spurgin.
Cyndi Cunningham, another home day care provider, said the political banter around the issue is angering her.
"With all due respect, this is our business. This is our livelihood," she said.

So what are the motivations for trying to unionize a group of businesses and people so dissimilar from the normal union membership?  CBS offered one partial suggestion.

Reality Check: Unionizing Day Care
Nov 16, 2011 Only 5300 of Minnesota’s 11,000 private in-home providers get public subsidies, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Subsidies which are widely different based on a parent’s income and county.
Privately funded day care providers and parents are not affected.
The families of nearly 34,000 children get low-income subsidies in Minnesota, averaging about $900 a month. One purpose of a union is to pressure the state from cutting that money.

The leaked memo offers others and admits it might be more about Union plans to expand membership, rather than any real labor workplace concerns.

The memo is available on Scribd and at Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
There is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding regarding this issue.  Much of this stems from the fact that what AFSCME and SEIU are pushing for is very different from the traditional employee union-collective bargaining scenario.  Child care providers do not fit in to the traditional union model, which, by definition includes employees, employers, and a collective bargaining agreement.
… Further the contract that  AFSCME and SEIU would like to forge would not address wages and benefits like a traditional bargaining agreement.
A concern over declining union membership and the need to target a new segment of the private sector workforce—independent contractors—also surfaces as a concern. “Representatives from AFSCME and SEIU emphasize that organizing independent contractors for collective bargaining may become commonplace in the future. With the decline of the traditional union workplace, a union of independent contractors might become a new kind of organizing for a new economy.”
It also states:
Proponents of the unionization effort have not identified any specific regulations that they find unduly burdensome an would like to change.
Proponents of a child care provider union have repeatedly said that a union would not attempt to influence the rates child care providers charge their parent-customers.

The memo further raises the possibility of compensating labor unions directly with state funding intended to subsidize low-income childcare

Which really leaves unanswered the question of what benefit any unionization would provide. Child care independent contractors already have an advocacy association that they can freely join, Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association.  There are no "benefits" listed that are not already present.  It would seem the major benefits are to the dwindling rolls of the unions and boosting their flagging influence.  A benefit that does not translate well to the independent contractor day care providers or their parent clients.  As the only goal they provide in the letter, the taxpayers will be certain of being required to increase taxes for more subsidy payments to the low income clients.  With a significant potential revenue for the Unions, and significant increases in parents costs.   As in other states, that have unionized child care, have experienced an average 35% increased cost.  So if you are one of the few childcare workers who are able to vote, make sure you know what you are entering into.  And know that abstaining is a Yes vote.

No comments:

Post a Comment