ST. PAUL (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered a vote among home-based child care providers about whether they should unionize.

His executive order issued Tuesday sets an election for December. It affects thousands of self-employed providers.

The state Bureau of Mediation Services will oversee the election. Dayton says if a union is authorized during the vote, membership would be voluntary.

Dayton's decision furthers an already politically charged debate over union rights. The Democratic governor and majority Republican lawmakers have clashed for months about Dayton's authority to call an election and whether a union should exist.

According to Dayton's office, 15 states have authorized providers to collectively bargain on matters such as staffing, safety training and quality of care.

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