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Sixth Circuit rejects class certification for anti-union home child care providers

This week the Sixth Circuit upheld a lower court's decision refusing to certify a class action for home child care providers.  In an effort to enable low-income families to secure day care and seek employment, Congress enacted a measure that subsidized the childcare of eligible families.  In 2006, the Department of Human Services and Mott Community College created a program called the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council, and this council allowed providers to make an attempt to organize a union.

An election was held in response to pro-union petitions signed by 22,000 of the 40,000 eligible providers.  About 5,000 providers voted in the actual election and they overwhelmingly supported unionization. A union was created and authorized to deduct 1% of child care subsidy payments as union dues or fees.  Carrie Schlaud, Edward Gross and three other anti-Union activists who refused to participate in the election then sued, with the held of DC-area anti-union organizations, to contest the dues deduction. They sought to represent the entire class of providers, or at a minimum, the group of providers who had not voted.

After examining the record, the trial judge ruled that the anti-union activists could not represent any group of providers because they clearly did not share a common goal and common interests with any designated class of providers.  They could not build a logical argument to suggest that they represented a majority of providers or non-voting providers, let alone the entire class.  The Court of Appeals upheld this outcome, relying upon long-standing rules of class certification requiring a clear commonality of interest.
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