Letter to the Editor: Will a Union Make a Better Day Care?

Gov. Mark Dayton ordered a vote of thousands of family home day care providers on whether they want to form a union.

Gov. Mark Dayton, on Nov. 15, ordered a vote of thousands of family home day care providers on whether they want to form a union. 

Family child care providers are self-employed business owners. As independent contractors, they develop the terms and conditions for the enrollment of children in their child care home and are able to individually set their fees, tuition and operating hours. The local economy dictates the appropriate fee structure for a provider business. Grants such as the Child and Adult Care Food Program are used by providers to augment their revenue stream.

Continuing educational opportunities, yearly training and support for the providers are offered by scores of day care/early childhood industry organizations, colleges and technical schools. Many of these opportunities are offered free of charge and throughout the year. Tax dollars provide for county health and human service and licensing workers to provide additional support and information to providers. 

For now, the proposed union vote will be limited to providers that accept state subsidies for child care. These subsidies are paid for by tax dollars and available to families who meet economic criteria. The subsidy rates are set based on local economic market surveys.

Family child care providers are not employees of the state of Minnesota in an employment relationship that permits negotiating over wages, and hours of operation. There is no precedent for an executive order of this type. Opponents of the union vote vow to file a suit claiming that the governor does not have the authority to authorize a union vote of independent contractors.

Ballots will be sent out on Dec. 7.

This is a great time to talk to your family home day care provider:

“Will a union make this a better day care?”

1. Will your child care business be required to join the union?

2. Are you currently able to access the free training and support you need from industry associations, colleges and county licensing staff?

3. Will the costs of my child care go up in order to accommodate the potential payment of union dues?

4. Ultimately, who does the unionization of providers benefit?  My child? The provider? The union?


Ruthe Batulis

Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce


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