SEIU/MASC: Curiouser and Curiouser

MEDC moved fast to secure a union operation for Michigan, but did they really need to?

Our ongoing examination of the SEIU-Member Action Service Center (we’re calling it MASC for short) continues to bring up interesting nuggets of information about the for-profit union subsidiary that received a $2 million tax credit from the state: 

  • MASC began its existence as a corporation on Oct. 22, 2009, when it was incorporated under District of Columbia law. On the same day, it filed an “Application for a Certificate of Authority to Transact Business or Conduct Affairs in Michigan” with the Bureau of Commercial Services in Lansing. This is a fairly standard corporate filing. Most states require similar filings for out-of-state corporations that wish to do business in state.
  • MEDC’s briefing document, which outlines the case for granting a MEGA tax credit to MASC, says that SEIU was considering locations in Kansas City, Mo., and Orlando, Fla., for MASC. We have performed Web searches and called corporate record offices in Missouri and Florida. It does not appear that MASC filed applications to transact business in either of those states.
  • While we have yet to receive word from Florida, it does not appear that SEIU or MASC applied for economic development subsidies or tax breaks in Missouri.
  • The timing of the SEIU’s application for tax credits is also of interest. An application for tax breaks on behalf of an entity that did not exist would be highly irregular, but if SEIU waited until October 22 to file an application with MEDC, that would mean that MEDC took only 18 business days to receive, evaluate and reach a decision on that application. 

It is not at all clear that SEIU was seriously considering other locations aside from Redford; the union did not appear to have taken steps to set up operations outside of Michigan in case the MEDC grant fell through. This is awkward for MEDC because part of the rationale behind its decision to grant this operation MEGA credits was the possibility that SEIU might put the Member Action Service Center elsewhere.

The timing of the application and grant was not out of the realm of possibility, but MEDC did display remarkable efficiency and decisiveness for a government agency. None of this absolutely proves bad faith on the part of SEIU/MASC or the MEDC, but as we’ve followed the paper trail so far the entire deal only gets curiouser and curiouser.