News Story

'Forced Unionization' Brings In $28 Million For SEIU ... And Climbing

The overwhelming majority of the money can be used for almost anything the union desires

The “take” so far from Michigan's forced unionization of supposed home health care workers for the Service Employees International Union is $28 million. That tally is going up on a monthly basis.

The overwhelming majority of these dollars can be used for almost anything the SEIU desires, including advertising, issue advocacy, lobbying, get out the vote efforts and other political purposes.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, the amount of "dues" taken out of subsidy checks that go to "home health care workers'” checks and passed on to the SEIU so far is as follows:

2007: $5,040,263

2008: $4,922,359

2009: $6,058,075

2010: $5,677,792

2011: $6,391,314

Add it up and you get $28,089,803.

“This is pretty much an example of government at its worst,” Wendy Day of Common Sense in Government told Capitol Confidential. “What we're seeing here is the taxpayers being placed in the hands of special interests.

“The one thing we can be thankful for is that it hasn't been made permanent,” Day continued. “Hopefully they'll put a stop to this and do so soon.”

Randy Bishop of the Northern Michigan Patriots described the forced unionization situation as “unbelievable.”

“This is bureaucracy at its worst,” Bishop said. “Government has no business being involved with something like this or helping it to take place. It's even more improper if legislators allow this to continue. Those who do so should be replaced in the very next election.”

“Twenty-eight million in ill-gotten dollars is enough,” said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “This needs to stop.”

Charlie Owens, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the cost keeps increasing but the plot remains the same.

“What we've seen here is $28 million that's been taken from the pockets of patients, parents and, frankly, from workers,” Owens said. “At this point it's become clear that this was the result of a concocted scheme to get dues money for the union.”

The “forced unionization” began when Jennifer Granholm was governor. It involved the creation of the Michigan Quality Community Care Council, which was used as a sham employer for the so-called home health care workers. The term “home health care workers” is in many cases misplaced. Many of those who were shanghaied into the union roughly six years ago are actually parents or other relatives who take care of developmentally disabled adults.

The main goal of the forced unionization appears to have been setting up a mechanism to funnel taxpayer dollars into union coffers. It took place in a covert manner, with the news media left out in the cold.

Issues, such as the following, were never vetted in a public forum:

  • Who is or isn't a so-called “home health care worker?”
  • Were the people involved actually self-employed?
  • Were any of them even eligible to be considered as public employees?

The election that unionized 43,000 so-called home health care workers statewide was also carried out covertly. Perhaps not surprisingly, only about 20 percent of those eligible to vote returned ballots.

This method of forced unionization was also used during the Granholm administration against home-based day care providers, a practice that the Snyder administration has since ended.

The forced unionization. however, continues in spite of the efforts of a majority in the Legislature to stop it through the defunding of the MQC3.

Tina DuPont of the West Michigan Tea Party said she wishes the destination of the dues could be traced completely.

“I'd say that $28 million is a huge amount of money,” Dupont said. “There's just no need for something like this to go on. I just wonder how much of that money ends up back in the pockets of lawmakers and other politicians.”

Owens said that arguments that the term “forced unionization” is somehow an exaggeration just don't ring true.

“When I testified before the Senate committee I used words that Ken Cole (SEIU lobbyist) seemed to think were over the top,” Owens said. “But then Pat Wright got up and talked about the emails you (Mackinac Center for Public Policy) have that prove that this was a union scheme and that what was actually happening was being purposely covered up.

“Those supporting this forced unionization claim there are things of value in the MQC3, such as training and lists etc,” Owens continued. “Well, you don't need to coerce people into a union to have those things. They (unions) keep talking about the misclassification of independent contractors. Nobody in the state has done the level of misclassification we've seen here with the MQC3. They (the SEIU) have absolutely no credibility on this issue.”

House Bill 4003, the first House bill introduced in the current legislative session, was initially aimed at stopping any future 'forced unionizations” from taking place. However, it has now taken on the aspect of being one possible way of ending the continued “home healthcare worker” dues extractions.

It passed easily in the House, but, until recently, appeared to be stalled in the Senate. Last week, however, HB 4003 was reported out of committee and is now before the full Senate.

When asked to comment for this article, there was no response from SEIU Healthcare Michigan or the pro-government union group “Rights at Work.”

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.