MAYOR Mike McGinn should rescind his executive order to Seattle child-care providers to meet with union leaders or lose city funding. The mayor should consider whether he wants to squander his remaining time in office on impractical and, in this case, possibly illegal policies.
McGinn has given child-care providers a Dec. 1 deadline to meet with the Service Employees International Union 925 and the American Federation of Teachers Washington. During the meetings, union leaders and child-care providers essentially would lay the groundwork for organizing in the workplace.
The city is not requiring child-care workers to join a union, but the directive clearly sets the stage for it. The order’s demand that providers and unions agree on a plan to keep day-care centers open during a strike assumes there will be labor discord. That’s the last thing Seattle’s universal preschool efforts need.
The City Council, caught off guard, asked City Attorney Pete Holmes for a legal opinion. Holmes rendered an opinion but cannot disclose it because of attorney-client privilege. The council should waive that privilege and make it public.
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The National Labor Relations Act lays out strict limits on governments using their regulatory authority to advance or thwart union organizing. McGinn’s threat to withhold city funds uses the city’s regulatory authority and reeks of bullying.
McGinn’s claim to be interested only in improving preschool teacher quality is undercut by his directive’s interesting timing. As noted by Times reporter Lynn Thompson, McGinn issued the order in the middle of his tough re-election campaign against state Sen. Ed Murray. McGinn lost, but was endorsed by SEIU and the federation.
Seattle is a city that values public process. McGinn has deprived residents of that by failing to consult providers, the City Council or the Seattle Public Schools, where many child-care providers operate. The CEO of the YMCA of Greater Seattle said the mayor’s directive felt like the nonprofit was being “strong-armed.”
Revoke the directive, Mayor McGinn. Do not create a need for the public to view your remaining days in office with a flashing yellow light.
Let the next administration oversee the vision for universal preschool in Seattle.