Care provider unionization bill heard in Senate committee

A bill that would allow in-home child care providers and home care assistants for adults to decide whether they want to join a union was given its first hearing in a Minnesota Senate committee today.

The bill says if a majority votes in favor of unionizing, every provider who receives state subsidies will be enrolled.

Supporters say unions could help providers negotiate payment rates with the state and ensure training. But several in-home day care providers oppose the bill.

Judy Sanda of Cloquet said she does not want a union involved with her day care business. "I just really do not believe that there is anything that the union can do for me in my personal business," Sanda said. "I've had the union be at my doors. I find them frightening and I find them scary."

Darlene Henry is a personal care attendant in Rosemount who provides in-home care to her mother. She said a union will help negotiate higher reimbursement rates, as well as provide training and health care benefits.

"There are many other home care workers out there who struggle as I do to get by or save for the future. Right now, as it stands, I have no voice. I have no say what happens in my career," Henry said. "I don't even have the right to choose to form a union, which is what I realized is the best decision that we have."

Republicans characterized the legislation as a union power grab and say it would force some small business owners to join a union. The committee will hold another hearing on the bill on Wednesday.

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