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A dozen child care providers filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to have legislation that allows them to unionize tossed out as unconstitutional. The legal complaint argues that the controversial law, which is set to take effect on July 1, violates the First Amendment rights of day care workers by potentially requiring them to pay union dues.

Day care providers file second lawsuit seeking to halt unionization bill

Bill authors Rep. Mike Nelson and Sen. Sandy Pappas after House passage of the unionization bill. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

A dozen child care providers filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to have legislation that allows them to unionize tossed out as unconstitutional. The legal complaint argues that the controversial law, which is set to take effect on July 1, violates the First Amendment rights of day care workers by potentially requiring them to pay union dues.

It’s the second federal lawsuit seeking to invalidate the legislation since it was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton at the close of the legislative session. The other legal complaint argues that the unionization proposal runs afoul of federal labor laws and violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Neither of the lawsuits mentions personal care assistants, who also were authorized to join labor unions under the legislation, which was carried by Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, and Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park.

The new lawsuit was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of the plaintiffs. It seeks to have implementation of the law enjoined and ultimately thrown out as unconstitutional

“Plaintiffs strongly oppose being forced to accept or support a mandatory exclusive representative for purposes of petitioning the State,” the complaint reads. “They also do not want their individual right to choose with whom they associate for petitioning government to be subjected to a majority vote. Plaintiffs want to retain their individual right to choose with whom they associate to lobby the State over its child care policies.”

The unions seeking to organize day care providers and personal care assistants — AFSCME Council 5 and SEIU Heathcare Minnesota — have stressed that the legislation merely gives workers the right to join unions if they choose to do so. The unions must get at least 30 percent of eligible workers to sign cards indicating support for unionization before an election can be held.

If collective bargaining is ultimately authorized, workers would not be forced to join a union. But they could be required to make “fair share” payments to the union.

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