Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Asks MERC to Reverse Forced Unionization of Home-Based Caregivers

Seeks return of $3 million in skimmed ‘dues’

For Immediate Release
Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012
Contact: Patrick J. Wright
Director, Mackinac Center Legal Foundation
Ted O'Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation today asked the Michigan Employment Relations Commission for a declaratory ruling reversing its 2005 MERC decision that allowed the forced unionization of tens of thousands of home-based caregivers. These victims, most of whom are family members caring for disabled loved ones who receive a Medicaid stipend, have been classified as government employees and have seen $32 million in “union dues” skimmed by the Service Employees International Union since November 2005.

“The commission needs to recognize that these people are not and never were government employees, especially in light of recent state legislation,” said Patrick J. Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “We saw this same scheme take place with home-based day care providers. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now.”

The MCLF is representing Patricia Haynes of Macomb County and Steven Glossop of Isabella County in the case. Patricia and her husband, Rob, provide around-the-clock care for their adult children, Kevin and Melissa, both of whom suffer from cerebral palsy. Steven cares for his elderly mother, Linda Glossop, who suffered a stroke while recovering from a heart attack.

The MCLF is asking that that the dues skim end effective today and the return of six months’ worth of dues, an amount that would be about $3 million if applied to all care providers. The rest of the money cannot be recovered due to the statute of limitations.

A shell corporation called the Michigan Quality Community Care Council was created by the Granholm administration via an interlocal agreement between Michigan Department of Community Health and the Tri-County Aging Consortium. A union attorney certified to MERC that the MQC3 was the employer of about 40,000 home-based caregivers at the time. Some 43,000 ballots were sent out to the caregivers to vote on unionization, but fewer than 20 percent were returned. Gov. Rick Snyder signed Senate Bill 1018 into law on April 9, 2012, clarifying that the caregivers were not public employees. The SEIU and the MQC3 signed a contract extension that same day, which a federal judge upheld in May after a union attorney told the court that the SEIU needed the money for political purposes.

The filing includes a legal challenge against SEIU Healthcare Michigan and the Michigan Quality Community Care Council. Wright said an unfair labor practice charge against those entities stems from a conflict of interest because the SEIU gave the MQC3 $12,000 to continue operating before the parties signed the contract extension.

“This charade is all too familiar,” Wright said. “How many times are unions going to repeat this game in order to fill their coffers? This situation is particularly egregious because it targets Michigan’s most vulnerable families by taking money away from the developmentally disabled just so the union can spend it on politics.”

(Electronic media: Downloadable Q&A with Patrick J. Wright can be found here.)