Federal judge rules child care union drive can go on

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A judge has dismissed two federal lawsuits aimed at stopping the unionization of state-subsidized child care providers.

One of the lawsuits filed against the state claimed the recently passed unionization measure violates federal labor law, while the other claimed it infringes on first amendment rights of free association. But in two rulings Sunday night, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said the plaintiffs claims are not ripe. He noted that no union election or collective bargaining have yet occurred, and no injury is impending.

"At this time, the state statute does not require Plaintiffs to associate with a union, be represented by a union, engage in collective bargaining, or pay money to any union. Plaintiffs may never be required to do any of these things," Davis wrote."

"Plaintiffs request that the Court peer into a crystal ball, predict the future, and then opine on the constitutionality of a speculative scenario," he added.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who signed the measure into law and was listed as a defendent in both cases, said he was pleased with the rulings.

"I believe that working men and women should have the right to vote on forming a union, and that the Court's decisions will permit such an election to be held," Dayton said in a news release.

The rulings clear the way for the union AFSME Council 5 to move ahead with its efforts to organize more than 12,700 in home providers.

But union spokeswoman Jennifer Munt said earlier this month that the election won't happen any time soon.