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Associated Press, Published May 06 2013

Twin union drive in Minn. stalls on tie vote

ST. PAUL — A twin drive to create new unions for personal care attendants and home day-care owners stalled Monday on a tie vote in a Minnesota Senate committee.

The bill is a priority of two unions — the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees — that have argued organizations would give workers a louder voice to press for standards, training and higher state reimbursement rates. Opponents, including some providers, see it as a grab for union dues that is being forced on them.

The bill would call for votes within two professions on whether to organize workers who care for state-subsidized clients — children in the case of the daycares and elderly and disabled people in the case of the care attendants.

Lawmakers on both sides say they don't expect Monday's 11-11 vote in the Senate Finance Committee will be the last word for the legislative session, which must end by May 20.

Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said she will ask for reconsideration of the vote on her bill as soon as Tuesday. “This is a temporary pause,” she said. “We're going to try again.”

Sen. Sean Nienow, a critic of the proposal, said he also expects it to resurface. He contends that workers in those professions already have other outlets, including trade groups, to watch out for their interests. “They need a lobbyist, not a union negotiator,” said Nienow, R-Cambridge.

Two Democrats, Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka and Barb Goodwin of Columbia Heights, voted with all Republicans against the bill. Bonoff would only say “it's not what my community wants.”

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