Perhaps sensing its future may truly be at stake, representatives of the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council (MHBCCC) complied with lawmakers' requests for comment at a legislative committee meeting. It was at least the fourth attempt since last fall to get the MHBCCC on the record about its role in the stealth unionization of Michigan's 40,000-plus home-based day care owners and providers.
Sen. Bill Hardiman (R-Kentwood), chair of the appropriations subcommittee on human services, has been particularly interested in hearing from the council. He and his counterpart in the Michigan House tried to eliminate funding for the MHBCCC in the current state budget, yet the Mackinac Center discovered the council continued to operate in spite of these efforts.
Tuesday's committee hearing gave senators a chance to quiz the MHBCCC about its purpose, its creation through an interlocal agreement between the Department of Human Services and Mott Community College, and the big question: the council's relationship with the Child Care Providers-Together Michigan or CCPTM, the so-called "day care union."
The testimony disclosed at least one unexpected revelation.
MHBCCC Board Chair Larry Simmons told the committee he did not know who initiated the union, admitting only that the council received a statement from MERC (The Michigan Employment Relation Commission, which certified the CCPTM) telling the council it could negotiate with the union.
What followed was a line of questioning the Mackinac Center had previously posed in the video report, "Are You My Employer?":
The "court" action Simmons referred to is the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation lawsuit against the DHS on behalf of three day care owners who say they were forced into a union without their knowledge. This case has prompted two amicus briefs in support of the Mackinac Center, as well as a federal class-action lawsuit by National Right To Work.
The legislators are not finished with the MHBCCC either. While acknowledging Simmons' and others' "passion for children," Hardiman concluded the hearing by stating he believes the council was established solely for the purpose of unionization and he intends to include specific budget language that "state dollars will not be used to fund the council."
In the meantime, it appears MERC can be added to the ever-growing list of state entities to be scrutinized for its role in the unionization of Michigan's day care owners and providers.
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