Unions in Perpetuity

During a debate in the state House over legislation that would ban the “stealth” unionization of independent contractors who receive subsidy payments, Rep. Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills, reportedly argued that the bill is unnecessary because individuals opposed to unionization can simply seek to decertify the union.

But can they? Take the case of home health care providers in Michigan. There are roughly 60,000 such providers in the state, many of them family members caring for developmentally disabled loved ones. Should a couple decide they don’t want a government-employee union skimming money from the payment intended for their children, how would they go about pursuing a decertification vote?

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These 60,000 caretakers are not gathered in one workplace, under one roof. They live in tens of thousands of different homes, from Copper Harbor to Monroe. They don’t have each other’s emails or phone numbers. If a victim of forced unionization wanted to send a letter making the case for decertification to every other member, it would require 60,000 letters, envelopes and addresses, not to mention $22,000 in postage.

From the union’s perspective, this is the beauty of the arrangement. A small percentage of prospective union members are aware of the election and cast a vote. In this case, 6,949 providers voted to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. The rest, many completely unaware that a vote took place, are labeled “government employees” and forced into the union as a result. The SEIU then collects $29 million without having to engage in the collective bargaining that ostensibly is its reason for existence. And family members caring for ailing relatives don’t have the time or resources to attempt a decertification election.

In short, the votes of fewer than 7,000 people have forced tens of thousands of others into a government-employee union in perpetuity. And for the union, the money just flows in.