House Republicans pass prohibition on automatic payments to unions

Legislation will move on the Senate next week

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter

A bill prohibiting the deduction of union dues or fees from state child care assistance payments to day care providers passed the Republican-controlled House on a 74 to 55 vote, Thursday, Feb. 9.

The Senate is expected to take up the legislation next week in health and human services committee.

An outgrowth of the child care unionization dispute sparked by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s executive order calling for a vote among some day care providers on a forming an union, Republicans depict the legislation as sensible precaution.

“This is not about political mileage,” said Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, speaking at a Republican press conference prior to the House floor session.

“This is about families in Minnesota,” said Lillie, whose wife operated a day care business.

Republicans argue the state has no business serving as the go-between in the payment of union dues. Lillie, for one, said the federal government prohibits union dues or fees from being automatically taken out of federal payments.

But no such law exists in Minnesota, Republicans say.

On the House floor, the “simple bill,” as Republicans called it, drew fire from Democrats.

Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, attacked the legislation on several levels.

He styled the bill as sending “a big government, condescending, paternalistic message” to day care providers.

Atkins also questioned exactly whose money Republicans were attempting to apply a restriction to? Was it the state’s money? Or is it really the provider’s money? Atkins asked.

But Republicans, such as Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, argued they were keeping within the tenor of established practices.

And Republicans insisted day care providers could spend their state payments as they saw fit.

Union dues or fees just can’t be automatically garnished from them.

Still, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, slammed Republicans for abandoning their ballyhooed job-creation emphasis.

“Are you kidding me?” shot back House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood.

The lawsuit reform bills sent to the governor were all about job-creation, Dean said. Dean also criticized Dayton for interfering in the private sector with his day care unionization effort.

Union activists slammed Republicans on their latest effort.

“I wish they spent as much time protecting families as we do,” said Lisa Thompson, St. Paul child care provider and member of the American Federation of State, County Municipal Employees Child Care Providers Together, in a statement.

“Instead, they cut child care and cut unions,” she said.