In an interview with the Detroit Metro Times, United Auto Workers President Bob King suggests that the forced unionization of home-based caregivers is more important than Michigan's becoming a right-to-work state.
“[T]here was a whole series of legislation that [Snyder] said was not on his agenda that he signed,” King told the Metro Times. "There were [university] research assistants being denied collective bargaining rights. There were home health care workers, who were given some really strong assurances that collective bargaining rights would not be taken away from them.
“And that’s much more serious, honestly, than right-to-work; denying them the right to collective bargaining.”
The “university research assistants” are University of Michigan graduate student research assistants who work for U-M professors. The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has held the GSRAs to be students first and workers second for three decades. A union attempted to organize the GSRAs against the wishes of several hundred of the assistants, many professors and, initially, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. Hundreds of students who did not want to be in the union were represented by the Mackinac Center.
“The whole concept of unionizing students is ludicrous,” U-M professor Fawwaz Ulaby told the Michigan House Government Operations Committee. “The work they perform cannot be distinguished from working toward their dissertations. ... There’s the potential adversarial relationship of employer to employees that would be created between the students and those of us who mentor them.”
The Legislature eventually voted to codify the MERC standard into law and ensure that the GSRAs could not be unionized.
The “home health care workers” King refers to are well-known to Michigan Capitol Confidential and Mackinac Center readers. He is alluding to the tens of thousands of home-based caregivers who mostly look after their own friends, relatives and children in their own homes.
The families receive Medicaid money to be caregivers, and they were shepherded into a union, mostly without their knowledge or consent. Many of the families reached out to the Mackinac Center to have their voices heard and to criticize “Proposal 4,” a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have effectively locked these caregivers into the Service Employees International Union for good.
The SEIU and related unions appear to have spent $9 million on the skim, which has netted them over $34 million so far. The Mackinac Center is involved in legal action to get the caregivers their money back from the union.
The UAW was involved in a similar scheme a few years ago involving home-based child care providers, who include people running day care businesses out of their homes and in some cases receiving state money for watching the children of low-income parents. King’s union worked closely with the administration of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a state department and other unions in an “experiment” to set up a shell corporation and force tens of thousands of such day care providers into a union.
At a national convention of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, then-Gov. Granholm boasted that the scheme had netted the state 45,000 new union members.
Two day care owners, Sherry Loar and Dawn Ives, publicly protested the skim (see a Mackinac Center video of their story here). Home-based day care owners Paulette Silverson and Michelle Berry later joined Loar in a Mackinac Center Legal Foundation lawsuit attempting to end the skim.