Opponents Warn Unionization Could Keep MN Kids Out of Some Day Cares

Updated: 05/22/2013 5:43 AM KSTP.com By: Stephen Tellier

The day care unionization bill is about to become law in Minnesota. But the battle over its impact is far from over. And now, opponents are warning that unionization could freeze some children out of certain day cares.

Julie Seydel loves what she does.

"It's a wonderful thing to watch these little guys grow up," Seydel said.

Only one of the twelve children who currently attend her home day care in Andover receive state funding. But Seydel just had an emotional talk with that child's mother.

"It was very difficult. Both of us had tears in our eyes. It's not a situation we want to separate from," Seydel said.

Seydel told that parent if day cares unionize in Minnesota, she would no longer be able to care for her daughter.

"I have a great bond with the child, with her mother, and it's to the point where if I have to join a union, I will help her find somewhere else for her child to go," Seydel said.

Here's why: If home day cares vote to unionize, all day cares that accept children who get state aid would be part of that union. That means union dues. No one knows how much they'll be, but about 100 Minnesota providers who have already voluntarily joined a union pay $25 per month, or $300 per year.

"That money needs to go to the kids, not to a union," Seydel said.

Seydel is not alone. In a survey of Minnesota child care providers, 37 percent said they would stop accepting children who get state funding. Another 41 percent weren't sure if they would.

"They don't want to be part of the union. They don't think the union can do anything for them. So they, in turn, won't take on families [that receive state aid] anymore.

But Seydel said the biggest impact won't be on home day cares, but on low-income families.

"It's going to be really difficult for them to find a quality day care that's going to be financially feasible for them," Seydel said.

Union supporters say this argument completely misses the point.

Their goal is to collectively bargain to increase rates for providers, increase state aid for low-income families, and make child care more affordable for all families. They also point out most opponents of unionization don't care for any children who get state aid.

Minnesota home day cares likely won't actually vote on unionization for several months. The bill allows for a vote to take place anytime in the next four years. Union supporters plan to spend the coming weeks and months speaking face-to-face with the more than 12,000 providers who will be able to cast a vote.

There will also likely be more legal challenges, which could slow the process down even more.