Is Silence Golden?

Michigan Governor Gives Tarnished Answers About Day Care Unionization

Outgoing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is wrapping up her eight years in office with a series of ‘final interviews’ with media outlets around the state. And in the waning days of her reign, the governor is finally talking about the forced unionization of Michigan’s home-based day care providers. But her comments are contrary to evidence uncovered by Mackinac Center analysts over the past 15 months.

MIRS News (Subscription required) asked Granholm a series of questions about the creation of the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council (MHBCCC) and its home health care counterpart, the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3). These agencies were created to be the so-called “employers,” so that tens of thousands of day care providers and home care workers could be unionized. Granholm insisted in the MIRS interview that, “I don't know honestly the exact makeup or the rules behind them.”

Last spring, The Mackinac Center obtained e-mails from a union lawyer that suggest the opposite. At the time, Tom Gantert wrote in Michigan Capitol Confidential:

In a Sept. 13 e-mail, (AFSCME Attorney Nick) Ciaramitaro wrote about the MHBCCC: "In many ways, this is an experiment with little guidance from statute and virtually no administrative or judicial precedent to follow. ... The Interlocal Agreement came about at the recommendation of Michigan AFSCME and the UAW with the support of the Executive Office." (Emphasis added.)

A second curious Question and Answer in MIRS was this:

Q. So the fact that thousands of people were unionized was an added benefit, then?

A. That wasn't the intent. From my perspective, it wasn't the intent. The intent was to train people and provide quality care.

If unionizing thousands of people was not the intent, then why boast, as she did at a 2008 AFSCME conference, that because of her office’s “partnership” with AFSCME, there are now “45,000 new AFSCME members – quality child care providers.”  (See the Mackinac Center video here)


Also, a quick check of the Department of Human Services website finds that the state has had a system in place “to train people and provide quality care” since 1973. The governor did not mention how this must have changed so dramatically in 2008 that a new agency and labor union were necessary.

Finally, if the “intent” was to train people and provide quality care, and the MHBCCC was created to help achieve this training, why did The Detroit News report some 7,500 providers were scrambling to meet a mandated Sept. 17, 2010 deadline for training, at the risk of being kicked off a state day care subsidy program? One provider told the newspaper, “I had no idea training was going on."

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation has been fighting the illegal withholding of union dues since September 2009 on behalf of three day care owners, with the case now at the Michigan Supreme Court. Up until now, Gov. Granholm has remained mum, citing the pending litigation. But given these revealing comments, perhaps silence really is golden.

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.