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THISWEEK December 2, 2011


Lawsuit seeks to stop child care union vote Lakeville child care provider among group of 10 by T.W. Budig ECM CAPITOL REPORTER

A Lakeville child care provider has joined with a group of about 10 others in a legal effort to block the child care unionization vote recently put in motion by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Becky Swanson, who has 10 children enrolled in her at-home child care service in Lakeville, spoke at a State Capitol press conference on Monday, Nov. 28, announcing the filing of the lawsuit. “I really think we have a very good case,� said Swanson, who has appeared at recent Capitol hearings in opposition to the vote. Her interest in the vote, which is planned for December and could result in the unionization of some child care providers, was originally aroused, she said, by bothersome union activists who contacted her at her business. Swanson, who does not have state-subsidized children enrolled in her child care and is not eligible to vote, objects to the unionization effort because it could result in a union bargaining with the state on issues affecting nonunion child care providers. There are already child

wrong,� he said of the pending vote. McGrath in an email said that Senate Republicans, who have recently indicated that they intended to file suit against the vote, were aware that Monday’s suit filing was coming. Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci in a statement responded to the filing of the lawsuit. “The debate around unionization of family child care providers started years before Governor Dayton was elected to office,� she said. “By refusing to call for an election, his predecessors denied licensed, registered family child care providers the chance to decide for themselves whether or not they want to form a union. Photo by T.W. Budig Governor Dayton believes Child care provider Becky Swanson of Lakeville and attorney Tom Revnew appeared at they should have the right a State Capitol press conference on Nov. 28 to announce the filing of a lawsuit against a to make that decision.� pending unionization vote involving Minnesota child care providers. Eric Lehto, organizing care provider associations with a voice at the state Capitol, she argued. The idea of having a vote is backward, opponents argue, because a minority could have power over the majority of the 11,000 child care providers in the state choosing not to join the union. Beyond the question of unionization, opponents argue that Dayton has no legal authority to call for the vote.

Tom Revnew, one of the attorneys representing the opponents, also argues the state Bureau of Mediation Services has no legal authority to design or conduct the election. The Service Employees International Union and the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees have been working toward the vote. Their supporters argue that unionization could mean better benefits, higher

pay, and less onerous regulations. The vote simply provides an option for providers to unionize or not. Some of the groups backing the opponents include Education Liberty Watch, Minnesota Family Council, Minnesota Majority and Minnesota Free Market Institute. Dan McGrath, of the Minnesota Majority, said his group is financially backing the lawsuit. “It’s fundamentally

director for AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, called the lawsuit “frivolous.� “Governor Dayton has legal authority to direct the Bureau of Mediation Services to conduct a union election and to determine appropriate bargaining units of child care providers. Voters in this election include only licensed, subsidized providers who have a direct financial relationship with the state of Minnesota,� Lehto said in a statement. “If a majority of providers come together in a democratic process, Gov. Dayton will recognize their professional voice. Union membership will be voluntary and all providers will retain their constitutional right to participate in the policy-making process.� T.W. Budig is at tim.budig@

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Farmington man charged with fleeing police on snowmobile by Laura Adelmann THISWEEK NEWSPAPERS

search of the area, concerned the driver may have suffered hypothermia, but did not find anyone. At 10:20 p.m., Farmington police learned that Astgen was at another residence, and went to talk to him. Astgen claimed to know nothing about the incident, and didn’t appear to be in any medical distress, but when he pulled out his wallet to show his identification, the wallet was soaking wet. Officers also located a black and green snowmobile jacket witnesses said belonged to Astgen. It also was soaking wet. Police noticed Astgen smelled like alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and slurred

his words. Astgen, who has a 2009 conviction for driving under the influence, said he had consumed “a couple beers.� A breath test measured Astgen’s alcohol level at .14, almost twice the legal limit of .08. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $3,000. Each gross misdemeanor charge carries penalties of 30 days to one year in jail and fines of between $900 and $3,000. Laura Adelmann is at laura.











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A wet wallet was one of the clues that led to multiple charges against a Farmington man who allegedly fled police while drunk on a snowmobile. Robert Allan Astgen, 35, was jailed on charges of felony fleeing an officer and two gross misdemeanor charges of third-degree driving while impaired for a Nov. 19 incident described in a Dakota County criminal complaint. According to the complaint: Farmington police and a Dakota County Sheriff’s deputy joined in a search for the driver of a snowmobile who was reportedly speeding up and down Pilot Knob Road and 180th Street at around 8 p.m. that night. After the call came over dispatch, the deputy turned onto 180th Street to see a Farmington squad turning on its lights, and a single headlight aimed at the deputy, who clocked the singleheadlight vehicle’s speed at 63 mph. As it approached, the deputy determined the vehicle was a green and black snowmobile ridden by a driver wearing a coat of matching

colors. Without slowing for traffic, the snowmobile crossed Pilot Knob Road and traveled east into a field, where officers could hear the snowmobile engine revving faster as it sped away, its Robert tail light growing Astgen smaller. Officers followed the snowmobile tracks to a residence, where people identified the driver as Astgen. As the officer was leaving, he learned the snowmobile was located sunk up to its handlebars in a retention pond in a field. Footprints were found nearby the sunken machine, but it wasn’t clear if they were that of the driver. Officers conducted a


Police say driver clocked at 63 miles per hour



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Farmington and Lakeville: Thisweek Newspapers  
Farmington and Lakeville: Thisweek Newspapers  

Weekly newspaper for the cities of Farmington and Lakeville Minnesota