News Story

National Media and the Stealth Unionization Case

The likes of Rush Limbaugh, John Stossel and Michelle Malkin have given their thoughts on the so-called "stealth unionization" of home day care workers in Michigan. And Patrick Wright thinks that may be a reason why the Michigan Supreme Court asked a Court of Appeals to do the same this past week.

Wright is the Mackinac Center's senior legal counsel who filed a lawsuit in September 2009 against the state of Michigan for what he claims was illegally roping in 40,000 home day care workers into a union because they accepted state subsidies from some low-income families.

The Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit, but didn't say why. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. They said they wanted the Court of Appeals to explain its decision.

"If you want to read between the lines, there is some good stuff here," Wright said. "I don't think you can write a justifiable opinion when you have to explain yourself at length which leads to a dismissal of this case. ... The Court of Appeals was probably not recognizing the national and international implications of the case at the time. Theoretically, that shouldn't make a bit of difference."

But the story went national as news sources from around the country picked it up.

John Stossel of Fox Business News took interest in February, as did conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh.

Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, who runs a very popular blog, picked up on the issue in October. Malkin wrote about the issue again last week.

In July, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker ruled that a lawsuit filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation against the state of Michigan could go forward. National Right to Work is representing home-based day care workers on the national level.

John West, who represented the union in the federal case, told a judge that 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."

In August, Mackinac Center reporter Kathy Hoekstra uncovered a video where Governor Jennifer Granholm boasted of her role in the unionization of home day care workers.

Hoekstra said there are 11 pieces of legislation that address home day care unionization.

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.