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Go here to read more about the day care unionization case.
Michigan because of the partnership between AFSCME and the governor's office,
this means that 45,000 new AFSCME members, quality child care providers, will
be on the ground providing care to children. That is great for our state."
Gov. Jennifer Granholm spoke these words in a 2008 speech to the 38th
international convention of the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees, known as AFSCME. What made these words different from other
comments is that Gov. Granholm did something she apparently hasn't done
publicly since - that is, acknowledge her office's involvement in unionizing
the state's home-based child care providers.
the speech, Gov. Granholm said, "We are partners in making that happen."
unionization was strange: It involved independent contractors and business
owners - not the people are usually placed in a public employees union. Questions
about the arrangement first arose in September 2009, when the Mackinac Center
Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit to stop the illegal diversion of so-called "union
dues" from providers' state government subsidy checks to the union claiming to
represent them. Now a federal class-action lawsuit is
challenging the legality of the unionization itself.
though this stealth unionization landed her administration in both state and
federal courts, Gov. Granholm has been
remarkably absent on the legal front and silent with the press.
Granholm spokesperson Liz Boyd has
suggested the governor's office and the Michigan Department of Human Services
simply complied with a unionization process properly carried out by the
Michigan Employment Relations Commission.
But a close investigation finds ample
evidence to back up what Gov. Granholm said in her speech to AFSCME - that her administration
was involved in arranging the unionization from the start.
2006, the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council was born out of an "interlocal
agreement" between the state Department of Human Services and Flint-based Mott
Community College. The MHBCCC was critical to the unionization effort since it
provided the union with an "employer" to organize against.
spokesman says that in late 2005, Lt. Gov. John Cherry called Mott President
Dick Shaink to talk about welfare reform legislation. Cherry then asked if Mott
"would be willing to become involved in training child care providers."
discussion took place during March and April 2006 conference calls between Mott
and several members of the governor's legal staff.
entered into the interlocal agreement later that year.
a letter sent to Shaink and the DHS director dated Sept. 1, 2006, Gov. Granholm
stated her approval of the agreement based on the recommendation of the
the state purportedly tapped Mott for its expertise in early childhood
education, college officials say since then, neither the DHS nor the Michigan
Home Based Child Care Council has asked the college to provide any training.
interlocal agreement between DHS and Mott requires the MHBCCC to adhere to a
union collective bargaining agreement, something Mott officials say was not
discussed, even though child care union organizing efforts by AFSCME and the UAW
were in full swing. Both unions listed these organizing activities in their
government filings in 2005 and 2006. The new union, called "Child Care
Providers Together Michigan," is a creation of the UAW and AFSCME Council 25.
Gov. John Cherry used to work for AFSCME. Once he got into state government, his
legislative district included Genesee County, where Mott Community College is
Lt. Gov. Cherry's wife, Pam Faris, was named to the Mott Community College board
of trustees this past February.
ASFCME itself indicates that the governor was
involved with this scheme. A 2007 AFSCME
newsletter mentions Michigan child care providers and states that "with the
help of recently re-elected governor Jennifer Granholm, they now have
collective bargaining rights."
Mackinac Center also uncovered e-mails from September and October 2009 in which
a union lawyer acknowledges a connection between the governor and the unions.
e-mail stated, "The interlocal agreement came about at the recommendation of
Michigan AFSCME and the UAW with the support of the Executive Office." And, "The
Lt. Governor's office, as part of the current Administration have an interest
in these issues as well."
media inquiries to the governor's office have gone virtually unanswered. The
Livingston Daily Press & Argus did manage to get a Granholm spokesperson to
defend the unionization, but that has been the exception.
nearly eight years in office, Gov. Granholm has held numerous news conferences
to announce job creation or new initiatives.
Center Legal Foundation Director Patrick Wright says given that this entire
process was supposed to help more than 40,000 people, the governor's silent
treatment is curious.
said: "She's a trained lawyer, and she was AG for eight years and a politician.
So she knows what she can and can't say legally, and she also knows what she
can and can't say politically. And so her silence here speaks a fair amount of
volume. Since the case has been filed, she's done her best to at least imply
that she was just a passive bystander to this whole thing and that the
bureaucracy had led to these people being unionized. What this video shows is
that she was an active participant, that she engaged in activities with AFSCME
and with the UAW to make these home-based day care providers into union members
and leading to the siphoning of dues from their paychecks.
Kathy Hoekstra is a communications specialist at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.
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