Michigan’s Department of Human Services considers home-based daycare workers to be state employees, and this means that the state can take union dues out of the subsidy checks used by parents to pay the daycare providers. But, an online daycare worker application mandated that applicants agree to the following condition: “I understand I am considered to be self employed and not an employee of DHS.”
And now, an application and another similar one have been removed from the DHS web site as the state is engaged with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in a lawsuit over the matter. Patrick Wright, the director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, wonders if the state isn’t trying to cover its tracks.
Michigan’s Office of the Attorney General, which represents the Department of Human Services in litigation, declined comment, citing the ongoing lawsuit.
Last week, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation submitted an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court to overturn the dismal of Loar vs. DHS by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Loar is the MCLF lawsuit against the DHS.
Wright said the state needs to explain how private business owners can become unionized public employees. There are at least 40,000 home-based business owners and more than $4 million in dues were collected.
The case has larger significance since a union lawyer has said in court that potentially any business that takes state subsidies could find its employees unionized. That could mean doctors that accepted Medicaid or landlords that take housing subsidies.
John West, an attorney representing the unions in the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation lawsuit, told a judge that any group that accepted state subsidies would be within the state’s authority if it had “added value” to the state or the public’s interest.
The DHS took down a second online application which stated that the parent was the daycare worker’s employer. This would mean that DHS was responsible for the employer’s share of any taxes.
Wright said that by taking down the applications, DHS has limited opportunities to apply for the program “while they try and clean this mess up.”
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation originally filed suit in September, 2009. The Court of Appeals has dismissed the case twice, but never addressed the merits of the case, Wright said.