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Tuesday Talk: Unions and Quality Care for Children, Seniors

March 19, 2013 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

Providing affordable, high quality in-home early child care and in-home adult care are among Minnesota’s two major public policy priorities. Minnesota will need more than 50,000 new home care workers over the next ten years to care for seniors and people with disabilities, according to DEED. Meanwhile, many Minnesota families are priced out of early childcare options. Both fields currently offer little pay, benefits and on-going training, making it hard to retain a qualified workforce.

Workers now providing these in-home services feel labor unions will help improve training and compensation.

What do you think is a practical solution to this issue?

Thanks for participating! Commenting on this conversation is now closed.


  • Mike Fratto says:

    March 19, 2013 at 6:30 am

    There is a simple solution.  It is that employers provide day care services for their employees.  Of course there will be strong opposition to this.  However, without employer commitment employees who need these services will be less effective as their focus will be on their loved one.

    The state can assist in resolving some of this issue by closly looking at the various rules and regulations that exist that impact day care providers and their employees. 

    As the cost of day care increases due to the cost of regulation and rules as well as the cost of employees it becomes economically unfeasible for many, especially in those in lower income brackets, to work.  This situation will add costs to local social service programs who are needed to take care of thse

    Its one thing to raise the income of day care workers and providers.  However, anytime we add a requirement to have a minimum of X number of trained providers or X number of those being care for we increase costs.  But we all know that.  So where is the balance?

  • Eric Lehto says:

    March 19, 2013 at 7:08 am

    The key here is state support of childcare.  In particular the Child Care Assitance Program (CCAP) that subsidizes childcare for lower income parents.  Minnesota’s CCAP rates have fallen dramatically in the past decade.  Currently the State pays on 25% of the market rate for childcare.  This is well below the federally recommended 75%.  This massively low rate forces providers to raise their rates on parents.  This is the main push behind the unionization effort for Childcare Providers.  If the CCAP rate goes up (the state would pay more) than parents would pay less.

    In other states like Oregon that have childcare unions have seen exactly that.

  • Rob says:

    March 19, 2013 at 7:23 am

    More unions is always a great idea. We have tried the “unions are bad approach” for 30 years. Since Reagan initiated the movement by hammering the air traffic controllers in 1981, union membership has dropped from around 35% to today’s 11%. How has that worked out for the middle class? Crappy. We need

  • Mike T. says:

    March 19, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Forced unionization for an entire sector of workers (in-home daycare) is a terrible idea.  The writer here can’t cite one source to validate his opinion that unions are needed and wanted.  My provider is 100% against it, as are those that she talks with.  Unions will “price out” even more families, since providers will need to raise their rates to contribute their union dues and meet more and more mandates on the way they need to care for children.  Let the free market decide; it is not broken so don’t try to fix it.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    March 19, 2013 at 9:26 am

    The simplest way, as I see it, would be to make early childhood care part of the public school system, with each school having space for the young children from its neighborhood.  Each childcare center could be staffed by persons with early childhood degrees and aides with appropriate training for those positions. 

    Early childhood care and education is a common good that all children need access to, so it is fitting that public money should be used to pay for it and that its quality be regularly monitored.

  • Kurt Anderson says:

    March 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

    When do the home day care workers get to comment?  Not likely during business hours, while this forum is open.  I come from a union family and my wife (and many of her otherwise liberal-supporting south Mpls colleagues) does in-home day care. She had a 2010 Parent Aware top rating (the association benefited PA more than her)but has skipped that layer of paperwork since then; and last year was one of several state “Providers of the Year.”  She came home from that luncheon to find out that the Strib had decided to go on the warpath against in-home providers.

    All of us are up in arms about possible unionization.  The union model simply does not fit a Schedule C self-employment situation, and most of them would invite AFSCME to butt out.  Please protect us from our would-be benefactors, thank you.

  • Donald McFarland says:

    March 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Here is a great video of Willian Gettman, the former Exec. Deputy Commissioner of the NY State Office of Children and Family Services.  He talks about the great partnership for success between the state of NY and the unions of child care provider.

  • marty says:

    March 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I do know that more training is needed for the PCA and in home workers—more standards are needed— The provider companies have not been consistent with this.  Have you looked at the profit margin of the provider companies?  Should more of the burden of the cost for care be on the shoulders of the provider companies? 

    A friend of mine was a social worker for disabled adults at the time that there was a transition from institution to group home.  She was frustrated as she could see that the workers received minimal compensation and no health benefits and the state workers received far better compensaion and benefits.  Yet there was no cost savings after transition to the private companies.  The supervision and the care of the clientiele diminished in the private care.  And the provider companies managed to profit well Much to the dismay of my friend.

    I do believe there is a need for group home options and PCA and in home care options instead of institutions for many of our disabled. 

    I gave you a nickname and not my real name as I choose to remain anonomyous to any blog, any media, or any publications.  Conceal my e address please.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    March 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I believe, Marty, that whenever a common good is privatized, it is inevitable that profit be the goal in order to please shareholders or to improve the owner’s and employees’ income if it is a small company.

    The best example I can think of is our privatized health care system, under which we spend a third to a half more than countries who have much better care outcomes.

  • Jennifer Munt says:

    March 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Parents can’t go to work with peace of mind unless they know that their kids are healthy, learning and safe.  To make that happen, child care providers need access to critical training in first aid and CPR, child nutrition and safe sleep procedures.  They need early-learning tools to prepare our children for school and success in life.  They also deserve a raise.  Right now, the state pays providers less than minimum wage to care for poor children.  Providers help us raise our children.  It’s time to lift this undervalued profession.  It’s time to give child care and home care workers the right to choose whether or not to have a union and a voice on the job.  That will be good for the workers and the families who depend on them.

  • Lisa Thompson says:

    March 19, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Joining together as a union will give child care providers the ability to have impact on the factors that make child care so expensive for working families.

    Parents can’t keep paying more but the providers can’t keep working for less. This is not a traditional small business market like a corner store or a cab driver. We can’t simply expand our business or work longer hours. Something has to give if we want high qualified people doing this work at a price that doesn’t keep families in poverty.  The cost of providing high quality care that every child deserve is out of control and continues to get worse.

    Family child care and home health care are not traditional occupations,so a traditional union model doesn’t fit.  This is where so many people are getting hung up. Our clients are not the ones who ultimately control our livelihoods - that power lies with the state and the counties.  We should have a say with the people who regulate us, but we don’t have that right now.

  • Clarissa Johnston says:

    March 19, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I have been a child care provider for twenty-six years. I can tell you that I spend thousands of dollars every year on food expenses. I spend thousands of dollars every year on curriculum, activities, and crafts. It makes perfect business sense to spend a few hundred dollars every year on union dues so I can take financial control of my industry’s shrinking resources. I follow the rules that the State of Minnesota mandates.Belonging to CCPT will allow me negotiating power that associations can’t give me. Many professions have the option to join both associations and a union.

  • Nancy says:

    March 19, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Actually, Mike, our early care and education system IS broken for the many families who can’t afford to pay for quality care and for the underpaid family child care providers and center teachers who can’t afford to stay in a career they love. Governor Dayton and a broad coalition of early care and education organizations propose that we fund scholarships linked to parents’ choice of a quality rated provider or center that best fits their family’s needs. The Parent Aware Quality Improvement and Rating system includes both public and private providers, keeps program choice in the hands of parents and ensures that taxpayers’ investment goes to providers and teachers who have the training, coaching and environment to provide nurturing, learning based care for young children.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    March 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I hate catching you in a lie Joe but the vast majority of these people have told us clearly they do not want or need your BS Union invasion of their private buisnesses. Yet you and the Union drones continue to attack them with these lies.