Daycare Providers Protest as MN House Braces For Long Debate

Posted at: 05/18/2013 10:44 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

With the session ending Monday, a bill that will authorize a union vote for in-home daycare providers is on the house floor and debates will likely go into the morning.


The bill that would authorize a union vote for daycare providers draws passion from workers on both sides.


"I would love to see this bill pass. We've been working for this for a very long time to have collective bargaining for daycare providers. It's going to help us get together at the table and have a voice," said daycare provider Carla Scapanski.


"We're only simply asking that the majority be heard. This bill does not allow all of the licensed family child care providers the right to vote in a very important decision," said Katy Chase of Minnesota License Family Child Care Association.


It's a controversial issue that had the Senate debating for 17 hours. With more than a hundred amendments to discuss, a vote is expected to take just as long in the House.


"The vast majority do not want it, they're small business people. There's absolutely no reason at all, no good reason to require these folks to be unionized,” said Republican Representative Mike Benson.


Representatives have strong feelings on both sides, but DFL Representative Liebling has yet to decide which way she'll vote.


"I tend to think that unions are a good thing and allowing people to negotiate over their work over their salary, their terms and conditions of employment is an important American principle. But the bill that's before us, especially the child care piece, it's really not that, it's a different concept," said Liebling.  


It may be a long night of deliberation on the House floor. Many demonstrators plan to stay as long as it takes to decide whether or not a union is in their future.


"It's for the people to decide that and that is our concern that the licensed family providers are not being heard," said Chase.


"We all want to do the best for our kids and if people would start to realize that we're all on the same road and we get better when we do it together," said Scapanski.


As this session wraps up lawmakers are already looking ahead to next year. They'll return February 25th, which is more than a month later than this session's start-date. Next year's main focus will be a construction budget and dealing with unanticipated surplus or deficit dollars.