AFSME Local 602 - MSU Moorhead

A Union Built for the Future

"With a bigger group of people, we would have a larger voice," says Brainerd provider Kathy Stevens.

Council 5’s Child Care Providers Together is not a traditional union. By uniting independent business owners, the union is on the leading edge of defining worker power in a modern economy. Freelancers, consultants, temps and permatemps, independent contractors, seasonal and contract workers – not one of these work arrangements fits the typical mold of boss and employee.

“You may not understand what our union will look like,” says St. Paul provider Lisa Thompson. “Many of us do not, either. But our economy is changing, and our unions need to change as well.”

That said, organizing child-care providers is not a radical idea. Thirteen states give providers the right to bargain collectively. Nationwide, AFSCME represents about 150,000 family child-care providers.

Providers in other states have achieved a unified voice and real dollars-and-cents gains, including rate increases, access to health insurance, and on-time payments.

Supporters in Minnesota expect that acting as a union will help their businesses thrive by increasing training and giving providers direct input into the regulations, policies and rates that affect them. It also will help children and families, they say, by raising standards and quality in the profession, stabilizing the workforce, and improving access to affordable care.

Council 5 is organizing providers in Hennepin, Ramsey, St. Louis and Washington Counties, plus 45 other counties in the northern two-thirds of Minnesota. SEIU has jurisdiction in the southern third of the state.

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