AFSCME Comes Calling for Providers After Judge Puts Union Vote on Hold

A day after a judge stopped a statewide election on a child care provider union, AFSCME organizers regrouped in a 40-minute conference call last night with providers.  The call, which was open to all 2,300 providers in AFSCME’s region, showed that organizers still have a long way to go in order to win over skeptical providers.

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota has obtained the audio of the call in which two top AFSCME organizers downplayed the significance of Monday’s court order putting the controversial union vote on hold, calling it a “temporary setback”.

“At some point during the spring, there will be an election and there will be further court hearings on that,” Eric Lehto, AFSCME Council 5 Organizing Director said during the call. “But everybody really needs to understand that this is just a temporary bump in the road and we are expecting that there will be an election sometime after the new year.”

On the call the AFSCME representatives acknowledged that licensed family child care providers, as small business owners, present an unconventional target for a union drive.

“Child care providers don’t fit the traditional union model that we know of today,” said Lisa Thompson, a member of AFSCME’s Child Care Providers Together. “We believe there is not going to be anything in Minnesota that’s going to stop providers from having that right recognized for ourselves.”

Providers from Bemidji, Brainerd, International Falls, North Branch, Duluth and other communities asked questions that indicated strong concerns about the need for a union, the cost of dues, the potential interference with their businesses and why all 11,000 licensed family child care providers were not going to be allowed to vote.

The call participants were also asked to answer four poll questions, including whether or not they would vote for the union.  The results were not made available on the call.

The AFSCME organizers were particularly critical of the state legislature, which Ramsey Court Judge Dale

Lindman indicated is the appropriate venue for the unionization issue to be resolved.

“Fundamentally, what’s been going on is that right now we have the legislature trying to deny the providers a voice themselves directly that affects their work and the families that they serve,” Lehto said.

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