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Letter - Don't force unions on child care providers

To the editor:

The Child Care Unionization bills House File 950 and Senate File 778 have been moving quickly through the committees, heading for the final vote. The bills call for a statewide unit of family child care providers, including legally unlicensed providers. Legally unlicensed providers are included because there are not enough licensed providers to carry the vote.

Legally unlicensed providers only have to have first aid, CPR and a background check to receive CCAP reimbursement. They have no mandates, no fire inspections, no rules or regulations and can care for relative family members with no limit; often caring for more children than a licensed provider. This would be the same as allowing a non-licensed plumber to come into a licensed shop to vote.

The statewide unit and exclusive bargaining rights would mean all providers would pay union dues and no other child care organization could be at the bargaining table. Proposed legislation to double training hours, mandating additional liability insurance and the fact that CCAP has not increased in 10 years will cause providers to pass on the costs to parents.

Long Prairie and Pierz providers average $99.67 per week caring for an infant 50 hours per week. If forced to pay union dues, increased insurance and increased training costs, where will the money come from?

AFSCME Child Care Providers Together have a formed union local, an approved constitution, yet only 57 providers are dues-paying members in eight years of organizing.

I encourage their right to organize, but not to use unlicensed providers to obtain votes or force all independent business owners to join as dues payers or fair share who pay at 85 percent of the full rate. Providers should have the choice of joining. If increased costs are something parents do not want to see, please contact your legislators immediately.

Katherine Stevens

Brainerd, MN