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Published September 26, 2011, 06:07 PM

Some Want MN Day Care Providers Unionized

CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) - A pair of unions is trying to organize home daycare operators in Minnesota.

CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) - A pair of unions is trying to organize home daycare operators in Minnesota.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union have been trying to organize providers for years.

Kim Feiro is one of 11,000 home-based child care providers in the state of Minnesota. Feiro says she and many others in the region don't see any benefit in unionizing their profession.

"You can't have a union to dictate that because we're not an organization, we work for the families that are coming to us," Crookston child care provider Kim Feiro said.

Feiro has been in the child care business for over 25 years. She has seen a push from unions for years to organize the licensed providers in Minnesota, but never a drive like this.

"I don't know, I really don't know what's going to happen. I hope it doesn't, because we just need to do what we need to do to take care of children and families," Feiro said.

Feiro says she doesn't see any benefit to unionizing this profession. But providers in the metro and southern parts of Minnesota want to unionize to have a stronger say when it comes to regulations, training and healthcare.

"We have resources out there to help us, and if we pay dues to those organizations the money stays here and the money helps us directly, and the union cannot say that that's going to happen," Feiro added.

Union officials say they want to change the perception of the profession. But Feiro has her own solution for that.

"They call me a babysitter and I look at them and I say, 'Do I sit on babies?' They said, 'No.' Then I'm your child care provider, and then they would correct their parents. So we educate that way," Feiro said.

There are 31 licensed providers in Crookston, and more than 100 in Polk County. Feiro says she hasn't talked to anyone who is in favor of the union. But she wants everyone to make the decision for themselves.

"So just give them the facts and then they're going to have to make the choices and if I don't have the answer, then I try to find it," Feiro said.

The issue has turned political. Governor Mark Dayton has resisted pressure from union officials to use executive powers in the matter. And Dayton says he won't act until providers take an authorization vote.

There are 15 states that already have unionized home-based child care providers.

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