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State pays $60K in attorney fees on day care unionization lawsuit

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Gov. Mark Dayton's attempt to use an executive order to allow for a day care unionization vote is going to cost Minnesota taxpayers.

The Star Tribune reports that the plaintiffs convinced the court that the governor exceeded his constitutional authority when he called for the unionization vote two years ago.

In November of 2011, Dayton issued an order calling for an election to allow child care providers a vote on whether to be represented by a union. A group of providers sued, and the order was blocked in April 2012 when a Ramsey County judge said the governor had exceeded his authority.

A spokesman for the governor said the plaintiffs originally requested $214,000 to pay for legal fees and costs, but the governor's staff negotiated the amount down to $60,000.

Plaintiff Becky Swanson said, "This fee payment illustrates that the real extremist in the child care unionization scheme is the governor, who ignored the constitutional limitations on his own authority to do political favors for his union friends."

Swanson said Dayton did it at the expense of self-employed child care providers who resisted the overreach.

The day care unionization issue was revived this past spring, according to a report in the Pioneer Press. The state Legislature passed a law allowing in-home child care providers and personal care attendants to vote on forming a union.

Two lawsuits were filed, both were dismissed in July by a federal judge in Minneapolis, but a federal appeals court in September temporarily blocked the implementation pending a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on a similar case in Illinois.

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