Legislation to allow for the unionization of in-home child care providers and personal care assistants cleared its final Minnesota House committee Thursday night, and is headed for a floor vote.
The Ways and Means Committee voted 17 to 14 in favor of the bill.
Two organizing efforts began this session as separate measures but were later combined into one. AFSCME Council 5 wants to organize providers who work with low-income families in the state's Child Care Assistance Program, while SEIU is aligned with the personal care assistants who care for the elderly and disabled.
Under the measure before the House, both groups could decide to join unions and then engage in collective bargaining with the state for higher subsidies. But Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, objected to the possibility of tax dollars being used to pay union dues.
"I have a lot of constituents that care for their children, care for their parents, other relatives. And their biggest concern, to me is the money, the precious dollars they get to care for their relative, is now going to go to a union," she said. "Basically, you're unionizing them against their own relative."
Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park wrote the bill. He countered that providers would pay union dues with the wages they've earned.
"They're using their wages. They're not using taxpayers' dollars," he said. "They've actually gone to work, they've cared for that person or that child, and they've earned their wages. They can go out and spend it on groceries. They can spend it on car payments. They can spend it on union dues."
A companion bill is awaiting action in the Senate Finance Committee.