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Unions and Child Care

Updated on May 27, 2013

What does the SEIU have to do with Child Care?

Have you heard of the Service Employers International Union? Would you be surprised to learn that if you live in one of sixteen states you may be a member of the Union and not even know it? This shocking news hit several families where it hurts in the pocket book. When you rely on a certain amount of money coming in every month only to find that now thanks to some clever maneuvering by the Unions and their Democrat counterparts in government, you like hundreds of other unsuspecting small business owners are now part of the larger Unions SEIU and AFSCME.

Small business owners generally go into business for themselves for one reason; they are motivated self-starters who do not want to work for someone else. There are of course a multitude of other reasons why someone might want to go to business for themselves, but that is the main reason. A lot of young women annually open businesses in their homes taking care of other people’s children, some do it because they are passionate about childcare and want to run their own business, while others do it because they desperately want to be with their own children and still need money to pay bills. In home child care is one of the largest growing businesses out there and the demand remains high for qualified individuals.

In some states, the demand for child care is continuously growing. One of the main reasons for the growth has to do with more and more women leaving the field. Part of this great exodus has to do with women no longer feeling free to conduct business in their homes because they are being told that now instead of being a small business owner they are government workers who must join a Union.

Child care worker are being unionized in sixteen states, six with active Unions and ten with charters in place but were the actual law has expired and so unionization is no longer forced by the government. Some child care workers who didn’t know they were in a Union may not know that they are no longer required to stay in that Union.

It seems kind of shocking to think that as a small business owner you may not be aware of you union status. However that is becoming more and more the case as young women and men are being blindsided when their state subsidies come in less the Union dues of course. These small business owners are coming forward en masse angry that they weren’t even told about this forced unionization until their check came in with the union dues deducted from it.

In states like Michigan owners of home based day cares have taken to suing for the right to leave the Union. Minnesota child care workers took up a lawsuit after the governor tried by executive order to instate unions for child care workers. While the lawsuit was able to overturn the executive order the senate and house voted and the governor later signed into law legislation allowing Unions back in. Now it is up to these same child care providers to get the word out about how not to join a Union.

AFSCME- The other face of oppression

Child care providers throughout the state of Minnesota have come under a barrage of attacks from union representatives who come to their house at the most inconvenient times and some providers have said that it has taken threats of calling the police to get the Union reps to leave. There are a lot of arguments why child care providers should be happy with the unions, why this is a good thing but these arguments do not hold up under close scrutiny.

The first argument is better wages for child care providers. Small business owners are able as a virtue of being an owner set their own rates. They are also able to set rules about when and how they get paid, and by deciding all of this for themselves they do not need Unions to represent them after all a Unions purpose is to stand for the worker against the employer by definition small business owners are their own employers. Still pro-Union individuals will argue that the purpose of the Union is to get higher subsidies from the state. In the sixteen states where child care providers have been unionized, some knowingly going into it while others like Peggy Mashke in Michigan or Terrie Boyd of Minnesota found out and are now fighting to keep their businesses private. In Vermont where they are currently working on a proposal in the senate that would require home based child care providers to either join a Union or pay “fair share” dues, one Mom states that these kinds of fees could easily put her out of business.

Private home businesses should not be forced to join unions and yet that is the very battle that is being faced by many in home child care providers. California and Vermont now among the states which are trying to legalize union control over home-based child care. It is important to note that this is “home-based” and not child care centers that the Unions want control over. The AFSCME’s is making a grasp for private individuals who accept state subsidies to run their private business, not companies and not large employers who hire employees to work. Most of these in home child care providers work alone without any employees and while the demand for child care is high the profit margin for running a child care facility out of one’s home is extremely low.

But Unions are a good thing...

There are of course quite a few people who will say that Unions are a good thing. Lisa Thompson for example, a leader in the Child Care Union in Minnesota suggests that unions are a great thing and will help strengthen the Child Care providers of Minnesota while she acknowledges that unionizing will not affect how much money child care providers charge. In fact she states that it is against the law for Unions to dictate how much a child care provider charges, bringing up the inevitable point if they aren’t there to help providers increase their wages just what good are the Unions.

Since 2005 16 states have adopted statutes or executive orders that allow unions to collect dues from private individuals who run in home child care facilities. Of these sixteen states only six currently have statutes that are being upheld. Some of the other ten states the Statutes were over turned or nullified when a new Governor took office. Research conducted by a Minnesota group prior to their vote on unionizing in home care workers shows that while these states were participating in some sort of unionization there was little to no advancement in any aspect of the child care profession. None of the state’s Unions helped child care providers with health insurance and subsidy rates remained the same.

Currently in Michigan, one of the states where the Unions lost the battle, there is a lawsuit by child care providers. The court currently has turned down the request for the suit to go forward, but the providers are contesting it, after all they claim that in the 2009-2010 years almost four million dollars was collected for dues and the Unions did nothing in that time to help the child care workers. Whether the suit will go forward remains to be seen, but this should stand as a testament to other child care providers nationwide where Unions have yet to take hold and even in states where they are taking funds from these private individuals how long can it go on before the private citizen fights back.

In Minnesota some in home care workers have taken the only resort they know how and that is to close down shop and go to work for a child care center since centers aren’t currently controlled by Unions. Another option of course is refusing to take state subsidies, an option that anyone who runs a child care facility can do but many cannot afford to do. For some in home child care providers these state subsidies are the difference between whether they can afford to keep their doors open and with dues now coming out even the small amounts each month are enough to turn the tables on these providers putting them out of business altogether.

Why the vehement opposition

By this point the opposition should be very clear. Most in home child care providers are on tight budgets that make every penny count, and when money goes from their subsidies to Unions who aren’t doing anything from them then these individuals end up having to close their doors which means the need for child care providers increases. If a provider can afford to simply stop taking subsidies and only accept children where the parents can pay cash, check or credit card then the number of facilities that accept subsidies goes down and parents who rely on these subsidies in order to afford child care are the ones who feel the brunt of it. Either way it isn’t the Unions who are being harmed in this situation, they are fleecing lower and middle class Americans in the name of “helping”, and making it more difficult for child care providers to stay open.

What happens next? Right now Unions can only take dues from in home child care providers who accept state subsidies, because they take these dues straight from the government before the provider gets the money. However, it is only a matter of time before the Unions figure out a way to get dues from the rest of in home providers; especially if the number of providers who take subsidies start to dwindle. If it gets to that point where Unions require forced membership of all providers regardless of whether they take subsidies then there will be larger numbers of child care providers closing their doors.

One provider out of Ohio claimed that because she took state subsidies not only did she find herself suddenly a member of the Autoworkers Union but she was also told what curriculum she could use in her day care which the Union considered to also be a Pre-School. This Christian Mom was suddenly faced with either closing her doors or teaching children about homosexuality, something she was vehemently opposed to. When she tried to contact her state representative she was told that there was nothing that could be done either about her situation or about leaving the Union, her only option became closing her doors.

What we can learn from Minnesota and other states

The numbers are very small, only 15% of child care workers have to vote in order for the Union to take control again. The voting process is also very complicated; it isn’t the typical voting that we think of when it comes to political elections. Instead all you have to do to vote for the union is return a post card stating you want more information. These types of power grabs are typical Union behavior, and when the Union claims that they are just interested in helping out the little guy one has to wonder then why is it so hard for anyone to opt out of Unionization. Many of the child care workers who found themselves in Unions had no idea about the vote or they had no idea that by returning a card requesting more information meant they had voted for the Union.

All six states that currently allow Unionization of child care providers require anyone not interested in joining the Union pay a “fair share” amount, or roughly 85% of what they would pay if they joined. In some cases this can come out to $20-25 a month and when there are 11,000 child care providers in a state like Minnesota the fair share amount alone adds up fast.

Should Private In-Home Child Care be Unionized?

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How can this possibly affect me?

If you do not live in one of the six states that currently have unions in Child care or even one of the ten others that are defunct you may wonder how this could possibly affect you. Better yet if you live in any of those sixteen states but you aren’t a provider the question still could arise how this affects you personally. Simply put if you have children and rely on someone to take care of them or if you are a provider and live somewhere where the Unions haven’t taken hold yet be cautious, six states is just a start. They will be attempting to regain control of the ten states that they lost. This control will probably be won through state and local elections with politicians who are favorable to the Unions. As a parent who pays for child care this could mean higher rates as the providers try to recoup the losses from Union dues, even providers who do not wish to pay those dues. If you rely on subsidies there may be a large drop in the number of providers who accept state pay.

There is a lot that can be done, providers and parents can take to the internet to make sure information is available about what is going on with the Unions and Union power grabs over private businesses. Like the Unions we can affect change by voting for political parties who will overturn or change the laws when it comes to Unions and private businesses.

Does Unionizing Child Care concern you?

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Why Unionizing Child Care should concern you

Any small business owner should be concerned with this latest power grab by Unions. By going into private homes and demanding that these business owners now be considered public employees, Unions have opened up the opportunity to go after other small businesses. In closing a child care provider out of Minnesota explains why the Unions and In Home Child Care do not mix.


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