News Story

Parents Forced to Pay Union Dues, Lawmaker Rakes In Health Care Money

Father: "Considering the dues money we're sending them, maybe they should come over and babysit our kids so we could have one night out.”

Michigan's “forced unionization” is not only taking money away from home health care workers, it's taking dollars out of the pockets of parents of the afflicted as well.

Meanwhile, campaign records show that the lawmakers who seem to be helping keep the “forced unionization” alive got money from the union that benefits from the situation. The records also show his campaign received thousands of dollars from within the health care industry, including from sources believed to be supporters of the forced unionization.

Robert Haynes and his wife, Patricia, take care of their cerebral palsy-stricken son and daughter in their Macomb Township home. Taxpayers help out with monthly checks to the Haynes family. The checks, which are sent by the state, allow them to keep their son and daughter at home instead of having them institutionalized.

But some of the taxpayer dollars that are supposed to go to the Haynes family are being siphoned off. The state takes a $30 monthly deduction from the checks and sends it to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). This deduction is the result of the forced unionization of home health care workers that came about in a deal between unions and politicians in Lansing.

“We're not even home health care workers. We're just parents taking care of our kids,” said Robert Haynes, a retired Detroit police officer. “Our daughter is 34 and our son is 30. They have cerebral palsy. They are basically like 6-month-olds in adult bodies. They need to be fed and they wear diapers. We could sure use that $30 a month that's being sent to the union.”

Capitol Confidential sent emails to the offices of Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Twp., Gov. Rick Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Community Health Chair Matt Lori, R-Constantine. The emails gave a very brief explanation of the Haynes' situation and asked the governor and the lawmakers if they approved of what is happening.

Of those contacted, only Rep. Lori responded.

“Do I approve of this? No,” he wrote in an email. “I had believed that the bill (community health budget bill) passed that defunded it would end it.”

In this year's budget, the Legislature ended all funding to the Michigan Quality Community Care Council, which posed as the employer of the home health care workers.

Two separate forced unionizations took place on Gov. Jennifer Granholm's watch. Both involved the creation of dummy employers and statewide union elections that were kept secret from the news media. It was believed the “forced unionization” would end when Gov. Granholm left office. However, in spite of efforts by the state Legislature to put an end to them, the deductions haven't stopped.

Emails show that Sen. Kahn, chairman of the Michigan Senate Appropriations Committee, worked behind the scenes to keep the forced unionization of home health care workers intact, which, in turn, keeps the deductions flowing. Those emails were obtained by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy through a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to campaign finance reports filed with the Michigan Secretary of State, Sen. Kahn received $2,500 from the SEIU in 2010. However, a review of the reported contributions to his campaign committee, Friends of Roger Kahn for Senate 2010, shows that he has received thousands of dollars from the health care industry. It should be noted that simply because a contribution came from within the health care industry, that doesn't automatically mean that its source supports the forced unionization of home health care workers. It should also be noted that Sen. Kahn is a physician.

Sen. Kahn's campaign finance reports also show that he received multiple contributions from officials at Detroit Medical Center. The top donor in this group was DMC Senior Vice President David Katz, who contributed $2,000 to Sen. Kahn in 2010 and $1,500 in 2009.

Katz was Gov. Granholm's first campaign manager. His wife, Jill Alper, was a chief campaign strategist for Gov. Granholm in 2002 and 2006. In fact, DMC's hierarchy is awash with ties to Gov. Granholm. Its CEO is former Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Duggan. Gov. Granholm served alongside Duggan as Wayne County corporate council before running for Michigan Attorney General in 1998. DMC's CFO is Jay Rising, Gov. Granholm's former state treasurer.

Last month, the SEIU and DMC staged a rally together on issues pertaining to Medicare and Medicaid.

Meanwhile, Haynes said his family is receiving no benefits whatsoever from allegedly belonging to the SEIU. The only impact it's having on them is the monthly loss of money through the dues deductions.

“Nothing,” Haynes said. “We're not getting anything from them. We've tried to contact them, and they don't even bother to respond. I don't even know what they could do to help. Considering the dues money we're sending them, maybe they should come over and babysit our kids so we could have one night out.

“We take care of our kids at home,” Haynes continued. “There aren't any working condition issues. There are no raises to negotiate. There aren't any union issues involved. But the money keeps being taken out of our checks anyway.”

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.