Critics of child-care union get favorable ruling

By Ed White

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- The Michigan Supreme Court ordered a lower court last Thursday to explain why it dismissed a lawsuit challenging the unionization of 40,000 child-care providers who work at home.

The justices sent the case back to the state appeals court, which had ruled against three women with a six-word sentence in December.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy sued on behalf of the women, who say the union is illegal under Michigan law because the child-care providers are independent business owners not public employees.

The union is a partnership between the United Auto Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and was created in 2006 with help from Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration.

The union gets 1.15 percent of the millions in state subsidies paid to providers who watch kids from low-income families.

The Mackinac Center had asked the appeals court to order the state to stop deducting union dues. A three-judge panel -- Patrick Meter, Donald Owens and Stephen Borrello -- denied the request, but the Supreme Court wants to know why.

"It's a very positive development," Mackinac Center lawyer Patrick Wright said. "The Michigan Supreme Court thought there was something significant to our case and it deserved a more thorough treatment."

A message seeking comment was left with the attorney general's office, which is defending the Department of Human Services. UAW and AFSCME are not defendants, although they are being sued in a separate case in federal court in Grand Rapids.

The unions say they are effective representatives, especially in cutting red tape and ensuring that child-care providers get paid by the state.

Published: Mon, Sep 20, 2010