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Dayton seeks dismissal of daycare union lawsuit

Mike Mullen//June 18, 2013

Dayton seeks dismissal of daycare union lawsuit

Mike Mullen//June 18, 2013

Gov. Mark Dayton is calling for the dismissal of lawsuits against legislation that allows daycare workers to unionize. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Gov. Mark Dayton‘s administration is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging controversial legislation that would allow home daycare workers to form a union. The legislation has already been targeted with a pair of lawsuits, which take different tacks in arguing that the daycare unionization bill is either unconstitutional or in violation of federal statute. Both cases were brought by legal advocates on behalf of childcare workers who oppose the move to enable union votes.

In a filing issued yesterday, state Solicitor  General Alan Gilbert argued that the plaintiffs in the case do not have standing to bring their claim, at least not yet. Gilbert writes that the plaintiffs have jumped the gun in challenging the new law, and that they could not have actually suffered damages, given that the unions have yet to be formed. On July 1, AFSCME union members can begin clearing the first administrative hurdle, the collection of 500 signatures from childcare workers who want to hold an election.

Following that, the union would embark on a broader campaign to gain support of 30 percent of affected daycare operators, which, if achieved, would lead to an up-or-down election on forming a collective bargaining unit. With each of those steps still to come, Gilbert argues it’s too early to hear the lawsuit, and that the challenge to the law is “not ripe for adjudication.”

“As Plaintiffs’ Complaint acknowledges,” reads the brief, “the alleged harm could only potentially happen in the future if several successive contingencies subsequently occur.”

The first lawsuit filed against the union bill alleged that the law was in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), while the second challenged the potential collection of union dues from unwilling members as a violation of First Amendment rights. According to the Associated Press, the Dayton administration will push for both cases to be dismissed in a July 18 court hearing.

After months of difficult committee hearings and a pair of filibusters,  one each on the Senate and House floor, the union bill, which also would allow for the unionization of personal care assistants (PCAs), finally passed through the Legislature on the final day of the session and was signed into law. To date, no lawsuit has been filed against the aspects of the law relating to PCAs, who would be organized under the SEIU Healthcare union.

Monday’s filing, which lists Dayton, Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and Bureau of Mediation Services Commissioner Josh Tilsen as defendants in the case, marks the second time Dayton has found himself legally defending a push to allow for the unionization elections. In 2011, Dayton attempted to allow for the unionization process through issuing an executive order; that order was later dismissed by a Ramsey County District Court Judge, leading union advocates to shift their energy toward passing the measure through the Legislature.

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