News Story

Small Biz vs. Big Labor

A lobbyist for small businesses in Michigan is targeting two Republican State Representatives after they voted to support a bill that the National Federation of Independent Business said legitimizes forced unionization.

Charlie Owens, Michigan State Director for the NFIB, said he is going to get the word out to his members that Republicans John Walsh and Kevin Green were among two of the three GOP representatives who voted for the bill.

House Bill 6195 was passed July 1 by a 66 to 41 vote. The state unionized 42,000 individuals in 2004 who were hired by elderly or disabled Medicaid recipients to provide personal care services in their homes.

Now, the bill will go before the State Senate under the cover of a "bipartisan effort", Owens wrote in an e-mail.

Owens said the other GOP who voted in favor of the bill - Tory Rocca - is well known to support Democrat causes.

"Don't we have Dems with better vote records?" Owens asked someone in his office on Friday about Rocca. "He is right in there with the Dems."

But Owens said Green and Walsh have a very good voting record when it comes to supporting the causes of small businesses.

The significance of the bill is that it puts in statute form that the workers are members of a union.

Owens said he agreed with the aspects of the bill that made it easier for disabled and elderly to be cared for in their homes instead of a nursing home. But he said it could be done without the unionization. The bill transfers some $6.6 million in Medicaid money annually to the SEIU union, considered the "union dues" for these workers. 

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has filed a lawsuit over how home-based daycare workers were unionized in a similar manner for child care, saying it wasn't legal.

"There is no statuatory authorization for this which is why we are suing them on the other one they did with the home-based child care workers," said Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center.  "That is the basis of our lawsuit -  that they don't have statuatory authorization. Kevin Green is going to help fix that. The other way is to just to stop doing it."

Green said it was misleading to bring up the union issue because the workers had been unionized for years.

"Some organizations are trying to make this political when it is not," Green said. "It is a little puzzling to me they are making such a big deal about this."

Walsh didn't return a message left at his office.

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.