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Minnesota PCA Unionization Vote Jeopardized by Lawsuit

August 1, 2014

An upcoming vote to determine whether Minnesota personal care assistants (PCAs) should be represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is in jeopardy after nine PCAs sued both SEIU and numerous state officials.

The lawsuit, which was filed July 28 in a federal district court, argues that the unionization vote would violate the First Amendment rights of the nine PCAs, who do not want to be represented by SEIU.

The PCAs filed the lawsuit with the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an organization dedicated to eliminating what it calls “coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses.”

In a statement, Matt Swenson, press secretary for Gov. Mark Dayton (D), said that the lawsuit was the product of an “extremist right-wing group trying to tell Minnesotans that they cannot decide for themselves whether to vote to form a union.”

The union vote, scheduled to take place later this summer, would affect the estimated 26,000 personal care attendants who provide consumer-directed home care in Minnesota.

The vote was triggered by a successful petition drive, in which more than 9,000 PCAs affirmed their desire to be represented by SEIU.

Sumer Spika, a PCA and an SEIU campaign leader, told the Star Tribune on July 29 that she has been frustrated by consistently low wages and poor benefits during her six years on the job.

“I strongly believe that a union will help us be able to negotiate for better training and benefits, so I can better provide for my family, but more importantly, so I can better provide for my clients,” she said.

— by Matthew Ozga

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