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Minn. child care union fight shifts to court

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A group of in-home child care providers and a conservative group plan to file a lawsuit Wednesday aimed at stopping a new law that allows state subsidized child care providers and personal care workers to unionize. Gov. Dayton signed the bill into law last week after a contentious debate in the Legislature. 

Dan McGrath, with the group Minnesota Majority, says he believes the new law oversteps state authority because federal law does not allow business owners to unionize.

"The heart of the lawsuit is that this is pre-empted by federal law. It's not permitted," said McGrath. "No matter what kind of tricky language that they try to put in the legislation to justify it, unionizing employers and unionizing businesses is not permitted under federal labor law."

But Jennifer Munt with the state employee union AFSCME says 16 other states have already allowed child care providers to unionize.

  "Their preemption argument is weak. Home-based child care providers are exempt from the national labor relations act, and Minnesota's democratically elected Legislature has the right to give child care providers the democratic right to vote for a union. And it's the state's right to collectively bargain with care givers who are paid by the state," said Munt. 

Opponents of the law say unionized child care providers could result in higher child care costs. They also say families that accept state subsidies could have fewer options if providers opt to form a union.