I attended a legislative hearing hosted by the Minnesota House Health and Human Services committee held tonight at the Stearns County building. The hearing, chaired by Steve Gottwalt, was to hear different views of the debate as to whether to allow unionization of independent daycare providers. The meeting was also attended by Republican House representatives King Banaian, Mary Kiffmeyer, Mary Franson, Joe McDonald, and Bob Barrett, as well as by Democratic legislators Larry Hosch, Patti Fritz, Diane Loeffler, and Erin Murphy. When I arrived at the meeting, there was a rally/press conference/photo op hosted by purple-shirted SEIU members, who were giving their spiel to local reporters without any return questions. There were a cadre of purple shirts there, including children of union organizers/members carrying signs saying "Do it for the children" (I kid you not!). They had their obligatory oversized, professionally-created placards of pictures of families. It was then that I asked them this question.. and it went something like this:
In other words, the SEIU leadership acknowledges that they will attempt to shift the cost of union membership of daycare providers to taxpayers (yes, that means you and I). After stating what he said, they hastily ended their press conference and headed into the hearing room, which had over 100 people. The hearing was divided into three sections; one section allowing meeting attendees in favor of the proposal to speak, one section allowing those against the proposal to speak, and finally, the last portion in which the legislators were allowed to share their views, as well as to ask questions of those who spoke earlier.
A total of 8 speakers rose in favor of unionization of daycare providers, five of them were wearing purple SEIU shirts, and one of them spoke twice. Two of the speakers identified themselves only as daycare providers, although they did not disclose that they were also highly paid SEIU organizers (a fact that was later brought out by Representative Mary Franson). All spoke of the virtues of daycare as a profession, but not one of them gave a cogent argument as to how unionization would help the daycare providers do their jobs, or help the children in their care-- a complete disconnect. They also berated the existing professional daycare organizations as doing nothing to advance their cause.
When it came time for those against unionization to speak, no less than 16 speakers rose (including myself). Two of those speakers were from professional daycare organizations (not unions)-- both of those self-identified as such before they spoke, and both stated that polls of their membership indicated that very few, if any of their ranks were in favor of unionizing. No less than three of those testifying stated that they were pressured into and/or mislead into signing union cards under the guise that "it was only for further information" only to be blocked out of those "informational" (actually organizational) meetings because they would not commit to the union cause. "Heavy handed" doesn't even begin to describe it. One childcare provider testified that she was visiting her husband in the hospital and that her mother was helping with the daycare. The union organizer came to the door and had the provider's MOTHER sign the card, saying it was just "to get more information." Most there who did sign cards complained there was no informed consent, that they were asked to sign the cards just "to get more information"-- it was not explained to them that the cards were in fact a consent to unionize. The providers wanted their cards back, but under current Minnesota labor law, those signatures are irrevocable.
In other words, it was a campaign of fraud by the union.
Most all of the anti-union providers stated that they are independent business people, who decided to run their private daycares as independent business people, so they could be their own boss. They didn't want unions coming in and telling them how to run their business.
It was quite clear (as I later testified) that the unions were not interested in helping daycare workers improve their lot in life or their business; they were not there to help children; they were there only as a means, as one person put it, "to fatten their ranks and raise more money." And they pulled out all the stops (including using children as props) to make it seem all warm and fuzzy.
Yeah. The SEIU is all warm and fuzzy, alright. So warm and fuzzy that they knocked on daycare providers doors, pressuring them and/or downright misleading them into signing union cards that CANNOT be revoked.
When it came time for the legislators to finally chime in, the DFL legislators present (as well as the SEIU membership) appeared to be very uncomfortable, trying not to step on the toes of their Union benefactors, with Republicans leading the charge in terms of calling for investigations into how union card signatures were obtained. Add that to the mountain of substantive testimony given by independent daycare providers vs. the nonsubstantive testimony given by their pro-union counterparts, it was quite apparent that the SEIU membership was mopped across the floor, brought through the wringer, and hung out to dry.