Despite US Supreme Court ruling, Minnesota home care workers move ahead with union election

Home health care workers in Minnesota moved ahead Tuesday with a union election, despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that may make their road more difficult.

Union organizers presented a petition to state officials to trigger the Minnesota election, even though the Supreme Court ruled last week that similar workers in Illinois don't have to pay any union dues.

The 2013 Minnesota Legislature passed a bill that allows a unionization vote by workers who provide care to elderly and disabled people in their homes. Minnesota Public Radio News ( ) reports that more than 26,000 workers are eligible to vote, and the 9,000 cards delivered to the state Bureau of Mediation Services exceeded the 30 percent required to trigger an election.

At a rally outside the bureau office, Tyler Frank of Minneapolis said the high turnover rate among personal care assistants means he has to spend more time caring for his partner, Nicole.

"When home care workers finally receive the attention and the respect we deserve for the difficult work we do, when our jobs are finally seen as the careers that they are, Nicole can finally get the reliable help that she needs to thrive," Frank said. "And with that steady help, I'll no longer need to choose between my goals and hers."

Frank and other union advocates are seeking representation from the Service Employees International Union, which began its organization effort shortly after the 2012 election.

State Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, who opposed the 2013 legislation that authorized the union election, said she was disappointed to see the effort moving forward, especially after the Supreme Court ruled that similar workers in Illinois can't be forced to pay union dues if they don't want to join, because they are not full-fledged public employees. Mack said she continues to hear from personal care assistants who care for family members and don't want anything to do with a union.

Josh Tilsen, commissioner of the state Bureau of Mediation Services, said the timetable for the voting will be posted in an election order later this week.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,