News Story

Union Lawyer Admits in Court that Stealth Unionization Is a 'Slippery Slope'

A fear that the "stealth unionization" of home-based day care workers could just be the start of a bigger effort was acknowledged in court on Tuesday by a union lawyer.

Patrick Wright, senior legal counsel for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, had said months ago that doctors that accept Medicaid, grocers that take food stamps and landlords that take housing assistance could be the next groups targeted in state efforts to unionize anyone who gets state subsidies.

The Mackinac Center has a lawsuit that it has appealed to the state Supreme Court about the state unionizing roughly 40,000 home-based day care workers. The state also unionized another 40,000 home workers for elderly and disabled. Both groups were unionized because they accepted state subsidies for low-income clients.

The issue came up in court when the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation was in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on Tuesday to keep its suit from being dismissed. The National Right to Work is representing home-based day care workers on the national level.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker asked union lawyer John West if the state could unionize doctors in a similar way to the day care workers if the doctors accepted Medicaid.

West, a Washington, D.C., lawyer, told the judge at first it was a "slippery slope."

But shortly later, West told the judge that unionization of any group that accepted state subsidies would be within the state's authority if it had "added value" to the state or the public's interest.

West said if the state could show added "value," then "that could be imposed on anyone."

Jonker didn't dismiss the suit.

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.