Union behind Proposal 4 facing lawsuit that was filed by its own employees
A hearing in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan scheduled for today could shed light on the inner workings of the SEIU Healthcare Michigan, the union behind Proposal 4, which would lock a forced unionization of home-based caregivers into the state constitution.
The case, Jolliffi vs SEIU Healthcare Michigan, is about whether an election for union leadership can take place by mail, as SEIU Healthcare boss Marge Faville is said to want, or if it should take place at a membership meeting.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Johnnie Jolliffi, Clara Leavell and Sheila Guinn. They are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop a mail election from taking place and to ensure that the union's constitution and bylaws are followed. According to their complaint, a mail-in election "deprives the membership of the information gleaned from the debate that happens at a meeting."
Jolliffi is secretary-treasurer of the union. Leavell is a union steward, and Guinn is recording secretary of the union.
SEIU Healthcare Michigan has approximately 55,000 members. Of those, about 44,000 are home-based caregivers who were covertly forced into the union in 2005. The others are people who work at medical facilities.
Sources said Faville apparently fears that if the election is left in the hands of the 10,000 or so members who are not home-based caregivers, she will lose. Sending ballots to a wider audience that is not aware of the internal politics could work in Faville's favor, sources said.
Most of those who were forced into the SEIU under the scheme orchestrated when Jennifer Granholm was governor have been virtually ignored by the union.
More than $32 million of their money has been taken by the SEIU since the scam started.
It was orchestrated by a mail-in vote.
The returns also are likely to be larger with a mail-in vote than with a vote taken at a meeting where fewer people are likely to attend. Additionally, a mail-in vote would capture people who are new to the SEIU scheme and might vote for the incumbent based on name recognition.
Richard Nottage, of Kingsley, was new to the union this year but is opposed to the forced unionization scheme. He took care of his ex-wife for only a few weeks earlier this year and found himself in the union as a result. In spite of the fact that Nottage hasn't been a caregiver since June 30, he said he recently received what appears to be ballot that could be used to vote in favor of Faville's bylaw change.
SEIU Healthcare Michigan spokesman Zac Altefogt did not return a request for comment.