Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Asks Appeals Court to Correct Michigan Employment Relations Commission Error

‘Clients are caught in a Catch-22’

For Immediate Release
Friday, Oct. 11, 2013
Ted O'Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation has filed an appeal at the Michigan Court of Appeals over the Michigan Employment Relations Commission’s April decision not to correct its own mistake for allowing some 40,000 people to be wrongly forced into a public-sector union.

MERC in 2005 inappropriately allowed and administered a union certification election for home-based caregivers — despite them not being public employees. In April the body claimed itself unable to rectify its own error, thereby allowing the Service Employees International Union to keep some $34 million it improperly received in dues. MERC on April 11 dismissed an administrative action brought by the MCLF on behalf of Patricia Haynes and Steven Glossop that sought to have the 2005 union certification declared illegal and have a portion of the dues returned.

“Our clients and tens of thousands of other people who were shanghaied into this stealth unionization are caught in a Catch-22,” said Patrick J. Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “MERC has said it can’t correct its own mistake because these people aren’t public employees, yet eight years ago MERC said they were. To be a public employee you have to have a public employer, and at no time have the parties that cooked up this scheme in the first place argued that the entity they cooked up was the public employer of these care givers.”

The MCLF in September 2012 asked MERC for a declaratory ruling to reverse its 2005 decision that allowed the forced unionization of some 40,000 home-based caregivers. Most of those who were caught up in the SEIU’s scheme were family members and friends caring for the state’s most vulnerable residents.

The stealth unionization scheme began under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm when an interlocal agreement between the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Tri-County Aging Consortium created the Michigan Quality Community Care Council. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation in April 2012 to make a distinction as to what constitutes a public employee in terms of who can be unionized. That was later upheld by an opinion from Attorney General Bill Schuette.

The dues skim continued after a federal judge granted an injunction against the law, but voters last November overwhelmingly rejected Proposal 4, which would have enshrined the forced unionization scheme in the Michigan Constitution.

The dues skim funneled more than $34 million to the SEIU before it came to an end last spring.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. The largest state-based free-market think tank in the country celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.


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