Minnesota Home Health Workers Approve Union in Historic Election

In one of Minnesota’s largest labor organizing efforts since the Depression, thousands of home care workers across the state voted to create their own union, according to several reports.

The final tally was 3,543 in favor of a union and 2,306 opposed, according to data released Tuesday by the state’s Bureau of Mediation Services.

With the union now authorized, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which organized the election, can negotiate with the state for wages, benefits, rules and working conditions for nearly 27,000 eligible home health workers who are paid through Medicaid.

The “victory,” as some are calling it, follows a judge’s ruling last week that allowed the Minnesota workers to proceed after the National Right to Work Foundation tried to stop the election.

Nine state-subsidized home care workers sued state officials and the SEIU in an attempt to halt the election, arguing the 2013 law that authorizes unionization votes for in-home health care and day care providers is unconstitutional because it violates their right of free political expression and association.

But U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis declined to stop the election, saying the challenge was premature until the tallying was complete, and said individuals wouldn’t be required to join.

The National Right to Work Foundation, which represented the nine workers, said Tuesday it plans to re-file a motion for an injunction against the law now that the union is authorized, CBS Minnesota reports.

Although the SEIU will represent an estimated 27,000 home health care workers, less than a majority of those workers voted for or against the union, which opponents say is a cause for concern. Roughly 5,800 voters cast ballots, meaning that just 22% of the total 27,000 SEIU-represented home health workers actually voted.

It’s unclear when SEIU representatives will meet with the state to begin bargaining.

Read the CBS report here.

Written by Emily Study

Emily Study