Minnesota news in brief at 7:58 p.m. CDT

Monday, June 30, 2014

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Opponents of Minnesota union drives hail ruling

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Bolstered by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday that limits organized labor’s power to collect compulsory dues, the lead plaintiff in a parallel Minnesota lawsuit urged Gov. Mark Dayton to have state lawyers stand down and ultimately cancel a pair of drives to unionize home-based day care and health care workers.

Rochester day care operator Jennifer Parrish suggested the Democratic governor had little chance to prevail after the nation’s top court decided that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois who are “partial-public employees” cannot be required to pay fees that help cover a union’s costs of collective bargaining. Although the workers receive state subsidies to care for clients, they aren’t considered full-fledged state employees and therefore don’t have to pay dues if they don’t join a union, the conservative-led court ruled in a 5-4 decision.

“The two cases are nearly identical, which gives us hope that the ruling today sets the legal precedent needed to permanently enjoin this unconstitutional scheme once and for all,” Parrish said at a news conference. She was flanked by Republican legislators who resisted the law’s passage in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

In a prepared statement, Dayton blasted Monday’s ruling and offered no sign of retreat.

“By a 5-4 vote the court has voted to roll back the cause of civil rights in America,” he said. “For decades the right to organize has been an accepted mainstream principle in American society. If people can’t vote for themselves to decide if they want to join a union or not, that’s just not democracy.”

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Minnesota bear researcher removes radio collars

ELY, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota researcher has surprised his followers and officials alike by removing radio collars from his research bears in the Ely area.

Lynn Rogers tells KARE-TV (http://kare11.tv/1m3U1Ww) it was a difficult decision. He blames the Department of Natural Resources for forcing them into a corner. He says the DNR gutted their program by restricting the number of radio collars and the kind of data they could collect to “to the point that it was hardly scientifically viable.”

Rogers claims his collared bears also became targets for hunters. He says removing collars now allows fur to grow back on their necks before hunting season.

DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen says Rogers’ move is a mystery. He says Rogers is allowed to leave the collars on pending a final decision on his permit.

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New e-cigarette restrictions phase in in Minnesota

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