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Judge hears childcare case

ST. PAUL - A federal appeals court judge listened to arguments Thursday in a lawsuit accusing Minnesota officials of forcing unionization on some childcare workers.

It is not known when Judge Michael Davis will issue his decision.

The lawsuit's roots stretch back a couple of years to when Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton unilaterally set up a process to allow childcare providers who get state subsidies to join unions. A judge ruled that was an illegal action for the governor, but the Legislature could do it.

Once the Legislature became Democratic controlled, it passed a similar provision, with supporters saying it would give childcare providers better leverage when dealing with the state.

“Like strong women before us, we won the right to vote for a union," said Clarissa Johnston, a pro-union child care provider from Mounds View. "We won’t let right-wing extremists rob us of our rights."

Republican Rep. Mary Franson of Alexandria said she fears childcare workers would be influenced by "union bosses."

"As a former childcare provider, I know that forced unionization will only increase costs and create fewer options for working moms and dads,” Franson said.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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