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Bulletin letters to the editor: Cottage Grove city work, child care unionization

City shouldn't outsource work its employees can do

I am a retired union construction electrician. I have lived in Cottage Grove for 43 years, during which time I have had the opportunity to observe how the city conducts its business. I believe we can do better for our citizens. Over the last eight years I have watched my property value drop $81,000, while at the same time my taxes have remained the same.

I used to outsource painting my home, fall cleanup for my lawn, weed control for my lawn, repairs for my home -- the list is endless. However, I am living on a fixed income so now I paint my home, I clean up the leaves and kill the weeds in my lawn. I can no longer afford to outsource like I used to. Our city operates like it has a blank check with endless resources to support that checkbook.

The city has the equipment to spray for weeds, to do manhole cover repair, TV equipment to scope our sewers, and we have the ability to repair water main breaks. Nevertheless, our city chooses to outsource these tasks. It appears that our employees expect outsourcing will take care of the job if they can't get it done or take too long to do it. It won't be long before we are "held hostage" by the companies we outsource to, because we won't know how to do it any longer ourselves.

Our employees are skilled in many ways and I'd like to ensure they keep their jobs and we keep our taxes in line with our decreased home values.

Paul Ravn

Cottage Grove

Child care union would hurt providers, kids and families

I am a licensed child care provider in St. Paul Park. I have run my own business for 13 years and like so many others I am dismayed that I am being forced to fight a battle against greed and abuse of power.

When 1,788 licensed child care providers who "voted" in the Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association survey were asked, "Do you support the formation of a union of licensed family child care providers?" they overwhelmingly opposed the organizing effort, by 86 percent to 6 percent, with 8 percent of respondents uncertain or needing more information.

Unions are supposed to stand for workers' rights (we are not workers, we are business owners), safety in the workplace and a living wage (we set our own rates so if we don't make a living wage that is up to us to change); a union is a unit of workers who are collectively represented in workplace negotiations, and its members are protected by labor law.

A child care union will not benefit us; the bill states we will not have the right to strike and we will not be protected by labor law. This union hurts us and it hurts families; it hurts the children. The child care union knows it cannot win an election, so it has turned to the DFL-controlled state Legislature to ask for a law change. State labor law standards require a union show 30 percent support prior to an election being ordered. Due to a lack of support this has been dropped to 10 percent and they have added unlicensed providers to try and get the support. Unlicensed providers do not have to follow the same rules, regulations are different and oftentimes these providers are temporary or helping out a family member. They are not in the same category as licensed providers. I keep praying that our representatives will hear us and do the right thing, but so far the DFL has chosen the side of the union over its hard-working constituents. Thank you to those representatives who have listened, support us and responded to my emails.

Tracy Thiede

St. Paul Park