Son of SEIU Healthcare Michigan president one of those facing charges
Seven of the eight people facing felony charges for their alleged actions on Dec.6 at the State Capitol are affiliated with the SEIU Healthcare Michigan union.
That's the union that has taken more than $33 million from home-based caregivers in Michigan.
One of the people arrested, Joshua Kersting, is the son of SEIU Healthcare Michigan President Marge Faville.
Kersting's current status at SEIU Healthcare Michigan is unclear. He previously was employed by the union over which Faville presides, but apparently was transferred to a different Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate a while back after his mother was accused of nepotism. Meanwhile, Faville’s daughter, Norma Kersting, still is on staff at the union, with a $62,131 yearly salary.
The SEIU dues skim is the result of the forced unionization of Michigan's home-based caregivers that began in 2005 when Jennifer Granholm was governor. Proposal 4 on the 2012 statewide ballot was the union's unsuccessful effort to keep the forced unionization alive permanently.
Joshua Kersting and seven others were arrested on Dec. 6 at the Capitol where they were protesting right-to-work legislation. They allegedly attempted to force their way onto the floor of the Senate. Now they face felony counts of resisting and obstructing a police officer. The next legal proceeding in the case is scheduled for Jan. 22.
All eight of the union protesters are being represented by the same attorney, Randall Behrmann of Okemos.
Behrmann would not provide details about any links between the people arrested and the SEIU.
"I don't believe that's something that's been out there or reported on," Behrmann said. "I don't think that's something I would comment on."
Of the seven who are known to have connections to SEIU Healthcare Michigan, none were rank-and-file union members. The names of four of them are listed on the SEIU Healthcare Michigan LM-2 report for 2011 under the category of “political activities and lobbying.”
That 2011 LM-2 report was the most recent financial statement the union filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.
The names of the eight union protesters arrested on Dec. 6 are: Joshua Kersting, Chreda Troutman, Eric Noyes, Stephen Cousins, Brett Matthews, Scott Holiday, Benjamin Wilkins and Ida Sinclair-Williams. Of these, Sinclair-Williams is the only one facing charges for whom no connection with SEIU Healthcare Michigan has been established. Whether any or all of those charged were being paid to participate in the union protest on Dec. 6 is unknown.
According to two sources, Faville's son, Joshua Kersting, had been working for the SEIU in Ohio until recently.
Troutman, Noyes, Matthews and Cousins are all listed on the 2011 SEIU Healthcare Michigan LM-2 report.
According to the report: Cousins received $59,213 in 2011 for political activities and lobbying; Noyes received $48,361 in 2011 for political activities and lobbying; Troutman received $45,989 in 2011 for political activities and lobbying; and Matthews received $27,588 in 2011 for political activities and lobbying.
Sources have described Troutman as a 20-year employee of SEIU who has been a “union organizer.” Photos of her appeared in at least one prominent newspaper's coverage of the protest.
Noyes was described by sources as, until recently, having been the head of organizing for the union. Cousins is described as having been in the home healthcare worker department of the union and Matthews is said to have been involved with member services before being transferred to the union's “Good Jobs Now” project.
Sources also said Holiday and Wilkins were on staff at SEIU Healthcare Michigan as well. Wilkins is said to have been involved in organizing.
SEIU Healthcare Michigan officials did not respond to requests for comment.