A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The director of elections for the state of Michigan has released the wording for most of the proposals expected to be on the ballot in November. The proposed constitutional amendment relating to home-based caregivers shows how groups can push innocuous-sounding language to do something extremely damaging.

Let’s go through it line-by-line.

A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH THE MICHIGAN QUALITY HOME CARE COUNCIL AND PROVIDE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING FOR IN-HOME CARE WORKERS

This proposal would:

Allow in-home care workers to bargain collectively with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council (MQHCC). Continue the current exclusive representative of in-home care workers until modified in accordance with labor laws.

This is the key part of the proposal. The "exclusive representative" is the SEIU. “Allow” does not mean home health care workers can choose whether or not to band together and lobby the state. “Allow” means some segment can decide to force all of the 60,000 or so home health care workers to pay dues to the SEIU, which can spend the money lobbying or on other activities — even if those other providers do not want to join the union. The word “allow” can be changed to “force” and the meaning of this part of the proposal stays the same. 

Require MQHCC to provide training for in-home care workers, create a registry of workers who pass background checks, and provide financial services to patients to manage the cost of in-home care.

This entity (MQC3) already exists, the training is already happening, the registry can be found online and patients already receive financial help to hire caregivers.

Preserve patients’ rights to hire in-home care workers who are not referred from the MQHCC registry who are bargaining unit members.

Patients can already hire any of the workers who are not on the MQCCC registry. There are tens of thousands of home health care workers in the state with an estimated 75 percent taking care of family or close friends. Only 933 people are on the current registry.

Authorize the MQHCC to set minimum compensation standards and terms and conditions of employment.
Should this proposal be approved?
YES ____
NO ____

The state has never considered these types of workers to be state employees. In fact, the legislature passed and the governor signed a new law explicitly stating that these private contractors are not state employees.

Home health care workers are hired by the people for whom they provide services, not for the MQHCC or the state. In the paperwork it provides to the people they train, the MQC3 says, "We are not your employer. The Consumer is your employer."

This proposal is a radical departure from what the state usually considers to be government employees. By this logic, doctors in Michigan would be state employees for receiving Medicare and Medicaid money. Grocery store owners would be state employees for accepting food stamps. Day care owners would be state employees for looking after low-income children (actually that scheme was already tried).

In sum, this ballot initiative speaks mostly about several things totally uncontroversial that already exist so that one section with harmless-sounding language can be slipped in. This would allow for the continued skimming of tens of millions of dollars from caregivers to the SEIU, which to date has taken more than $31 million from workers.

St. Lawrence University economist Steven Horwitz discusses how the minimum wage was used to block immigrants from taking scarce jobs during the depression era. See more at "Raising the Minimum Wage, Lowering Opportunity."


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