The battle whether they should unionize took center stage.
The battle over whether daycare providers and personal care assistants (PCAs) who receive state funding should be allowed to unionize took center stage in a Hartford courtroom Thursday.
Some daycare providers and PCAs have filed several lawsuits against Gov. Dannel Malloy over the issue. The state is now trying to get those lawsuits dismissed. Both sides made their arguments during a two hour hearing in Hartford Superior Court.
In September 2011, Malloy signed two executive orders which paved the way for state-funded daycare providers and PCAs to unionize, even though state lawmakers had rejected legislation that would have given those groups collective bargaining rights.
Cathy Ludlum, a disabled Manchester resident, is among the plaintiffs who claim the governor exceeded his authority in authorizing those executive orders.
Ludlum has lived on her own for the past 20 years with the help of about eight part-time PCAs every week. Now that the assistants are unionizing, Ludlum fears she won't be able to afford their care with the money she gets from the state and will instead end up in a nursing home.
"If I'm forced into a nursing home all of my personal care attendants are going to lose their jobs. How is that helping them? How is that helping me?" said Ludlum.
The Attorney General's office is representing the state in the lawsuits. During the hearing, state attorneys pointed out the legislature later put those executive orders into law.
They also questioned why the lawsuits weren't filed until after the executive orders were almost entirely fulfilled, questioned whether the plaintiffs even have legal standing to file the lawsuits, and questioned whether state law gives Malloy sovereign immunity against such lawsuits.
Ludlum's attorney, Joe Summa, described Malloy's actions as "an illegal scheme to funnel money to the S.E.I.U."
Andrew McDonald, the Governor's chief legal counsel, attended the hearing.
"The legislature adopted that framework and implemented legislation allowing for these rights for these individuals. That process is a democratic process," said McDonald.
Only about 20-percent of potential members voted to unionize, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs.
"I didn't have a ballot. I didn't know the ballots had gone out. There wasn't a lot of publicity about this," said Maria Nelson, who runs a home day care in Southington and is one of the plaintiffs.
After the hearing, the judge gave no indication of how long it will take for him to issue a ruling.