No Provisions for Higher Pay or Improved Work Conditions

The 100-word summary of Proposal 4 that will appear on the ballot states that the newly created MQHCC would “set minimum compensation standards and terms of employment.” The language of the actual constitutional amendment, however, states that the MQHCC’s power of “setting compensation standards … and other terms and conditions for the employment of individual providers by program participants” is “subject to appropriations by the Legislature.” [*],[68]

In other words, any pay increases or improvements in benefits would be dependent on decisions by the Legislature, just as they currently are. Nothing would change. The Legislature would still determine, as it does now, how much the caregivers would be paid. The “collective bargaining agreement” between the MQHCC and any union representing in-home caregivers would be a nonbinding list of desired appropriations and provisions. Proposal 4 does not require the Legislature to make the appropriations necessary to provide the requests in the collective bargaining agreement.[†]

The Medicaid money paid to the caregivers comes from the federal government, passes through the state government and is sent to the care recipient. The MQC3 does not handle this money, and neither would the new MQHCC. The union would effectively serve as a lobbyist of the MQHCC and presumably the Legislature.[‡] The union would receive dues and agency fees withheld from care providers’ paychecks, however, meaning that caregivers could actually receive less take-home pay than they would without union representation.  

[*] The 100-word summary and the complete language of Proposal 4 appear in the Appendix. Even though the phrase “subject to appropriation” is left off the ballot that the voters will see, the complete language of Proposal 4 is what the voters would add to the Michigan Constitution.

[†] Note that Proposal 4 does not grant the MQHCC powers to authorize “increases in rates of compensation” as the Michigan Constitution does the Civil Service Commission. Proposal 4 contains none of the elaborate apparatus for the MQHCC that is described in Article 11, Section 5, for coordinating the CSC’s authorized compensation increases with the governor and the Legislature and the state budget process. Nor is the MQHCC elevated to the same level as the CSC, which regulates collective bargaining for state employees; rather, the MQHCC is subordinate to the collective bargaining regulation of MERC.

[‡] If Proposal 4 were approved, the SEIU would remain the home help providers’ certified union if a collective bargaining agreement between the MQC3 and the SEIU were in force at the time Proposal 4 was adopted. (See Proposal 4 of 2012, Article 5, Section 31(4).) The existence of a collective bargaining agreement would depend, in turn, on the April 9, 2012, contract extension’s validity, which is in doubt. If that extension were found to be invalid, Public Act 76 would render the home help providers private employees until Proposal 4 took effect. Hence, a new union certification election for home help providers as public employees would be necessary.