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AG’s office: Limited options on unionization suit; Dayton will contest order

Jake Grovum//December 8, 2011

AG’s office: Limited options on unionization suit; Dayton will contest order

Jake Grovum//December 8, 2011

Gov. Mark Dayton

The Dayton administration will contest a temporary restraining order that blocked a proposed child care unionization vote that was supposed to start on Wednesday. A follow-up hearing, where the administration will makes its case,  is scheduled for Jan. 17.

The decision came a day after the Attorney General’s office laid out three immediate responses available to Gov. Mark Dayton in response to a judge’s order this week halting a childcare unionization vote. Not one of the available options would have made any great strides in getting the election — which was supposed to start on Wednesday — back on track anytime soon.

A letter from Solicitor General Alan Gilbert (pdf) to Dayton attorney Micah Hanes left little room for the Dayton administration to maneuver. The one-page letter laid out just three options available:

First, the governor could wait for a follow up hearing and contest the judge’s ruling, which simply placed a temporary restraining order on Dayton’s executive order authorizing a unionization vote.

Second, the governor could withdraw the executive order, rendering the underlying lawsuit moot.

Finally, Dayton could appeal the judge’s ruling by taking the issue to the Court of Appeals.

Earlier in the week, the administration said it was waiting for a written order to be published by Ramsey County Judge Dale Lindman, who issued the temporary restraining order. Ultimately, the administration chose to defend its order in Lindman’s court.

Childcare unionization was politically fraught even before Dayton issued his executive order in November. For years, AFSCME and SEIU have been pushing the state to allow certain in-home childcare providers to unionize, something that would require an executive order, legislation or potentially both.

Dayton’s order immediately roiled Republicans, conservatives and some childcare providers across the state. Just a week before the election was set to begin, 11 providers filed suit in Ramsey County District Court, contending the order overstepped the governor’s authority. The Senate, by way of a GOP-dominated Rules Committee vote, filed a brief in support of the suit days later.

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