Child Care Provider Unionization

December 24, 2012

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has been supporting an effort to unionize in-home childcare providers in the state. In November of 2011, Dayton called an election for family child-care providers who were licensed, registered and received subsidies from state Child Care Assistance Programs to decide whether they wanted to be represented by a union. Two unions support the effort: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The effort was challenged by Republican legislators and others, who argue that unionizing in-home child care providers will result in increased child care costs for families, as providers will raise prices to cover union dues.  Several licensed child care providers filed a lawsuit in January of this year and a judge enjoined Dayton’s order in April, indicating that such action was beyond the governor’s authority 2012 WL 1150257. It is unclear at this time whether Dayton will request that the Legislature to address the issue.  Democrats won the majority in both the House and Senate in the November election so, there may be a more amenable environment for such a measure next year.

News articles have made references to other states that have unionized child care providers. I ran a plain language search in WestlawNext Secondary Sources to see if I could find more general information about this sort of action:


The first article is about the Governor of Maryland signing a union contract for in-home child care providers. 20 No. 2 Md. Emp. L. Letter 6Governor Signs First Union Contract Covering State’s Home-Based Child-Care Providers (2009). The article also mentions that the SEIU was behind the contract negotiation.

The second article, 22 No. 2 Tenn. Emp. L. Letter 3, mentions the unionization of in home child care providers in Michigan, formed with AFSCME support.

Other top results included:

David L. Gregory, Labor Organizing by Executive Order: Governor Spitzer and the Unionization of Home-Based Child Day-Care Providers, 35 Fordham Urb. L.J. 277 (2008). (Article discusses a 2007 Executive Order signed by Eliot Spitzer calling for the unionization of child care providers who receives state subsidies.  The article also discusses similar efforts in California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Oregon, Iowa, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.)

Peggie R. Smith, Laboring for Child Care: A Consideration of New Approaches to Represent Low-Income Service Workers, 8 U. Pa. J. Lab. & Emp. L. 583 (2006)

Peggie R. Smith, Welfare, Child Care, and the People Who Care: Union Representation of Family Child Care Providers, 55 U. Kan. L. Rev. 321 (2007)

Peggie R. Smith, The Publicization of Home-Based Care Work in State Labor Law, 92 Minn. L. Rev. 1390 (2008)

Peggie R. Smith, Caring for Paid Caregivers: Linking Quality Child Care with Improved Working Conditions, 73 U. Cin. L. Rev. 399 (2004)


Proposed & Enacted Legislation

The same search delivers interesting legislation as well:

2011 KS H.B. 2222 (NS), 2011 Kansas House Bill No. 2222, Kansas Eighty-Fourth Legislature 2011 Regular Session – Proposed amendment to prohibit employees of state child care centers and in-home workers providing attendant care services under home and community based services programs from unionizing.

2008 NJ A.B. 4262 (NS), 2008 New Jersey Assembly Bill No. 4262, New Jersey Two Hundred Thirteenth Legislature – Second Annual Session (FULL TEXT – NETSCAN) – Proposal to authorize negotiations with a bargaining representative of family child care providers.

2011 VT H.B. 97 (NS), 2011 Vermont House Bill No. 97, Vermont 2011-2012 Legislative Session – Proposed legislation that allows unionization of child care providers for collective bargaining purposes.

2012 CT H.B. 5312 (NS), 2012 Connecticut House Bill No. 5312, Connecticut General Assembly – February Session, 2012 – Proposed legislation titled: An Act Creating a Process for Family Child Care Providers and Personal Care Attendants to Collectively Bargain with the State.



The unionization of child care providers is an issue that is being discussed in a variety of jurisdictions. As for the efforts here in Minnesota, we will have to wait and see whether any proposals appear in the newly formed Legislature. Want to keep tabs?  Set up a Westclip in the MN-LEGIS database:


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