News Story

The Saga of Forced Unionization

When Patrick Wright heard the story of Sherry Loar, the senior legal analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy initially thought her story couldn’t possibly be true.

For 14-plus years, she had worked as an independent day care worker in Petoskey — and then she received a letter from the state saying that she was now a dues-paying union member.

One year later, Wright’s legal journey to stop forced unionization has morphed into a cautionary tale of the long arm of unions when teamed with the power of a state government supportive of organized labor.

And it’s one that the national media is just starting to repeat, nearly a half a year after Wright held his own press conference in Lansing before about 10 state reporters.

Since then, about a dozen state TV stations and newspapers have reported on it, and the Wall Street Journal, Fox Business Channel, John Stossel and Rush Limbaugh have also picked up the story.

“I am a little surprised at the delayed reaction at the national level,” Wright said. “It’s something that is so incredible that in some ways it is hard to get people to accept that it is happening.”

Wright filed a lawsuit last September against the Michigan Department of Human Services on behalf of home-based day care providers who allege they were not aware they were roped into the Child Care Providers Together Michigan union.

Wright discovered that the state auditor general stated that as many as 70,000 day care providers are covered by the union, yet only 6,300 members voted when the union was put to a vote. The union collected an estimated $3.7 million in dues in 2009.

The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation’s suit and Wright is considering appealing that ruling to the Michigan Supreme Court.

But Wright’s work has caught the eye of some in the state Legislature.

There have been five bills introduced by Republicans in the House and Senate to outlaw the practice of unionization of a person whose “private employment compensation” comes from a government subsidy.

The state Legislature defunded Michigan Home Based Child Care Council, which was the organization that home day workers learned was now their employer. Yet, the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council continued to operate, despite having its funding axed. The Department of Human Services refused to tell state legislators how the MHBCCC was still operating without any money, citing the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation’s lawsuit. However, they relented and said there was DHS money shuffled around to cover the MHBCCC.

The MHBCCC has a meeting at 10 a.m. today.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.