News Story

The Cover Story For the 'Dues Skim'

A “cover story” was built into the scheme that forced tens of thousands of alleged home health care workers into the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). That original “cover story” is still being used as a diversion.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of a “cover story” is “a false story intended to deceive or mislead.”

In 2005, there were 43,729 so-called “home health care workers” scattered across Michigan. It's now known that roughly 75 percent were taking care of a homebound relative or a close friend. At the time, only 20 percent had multiple clients and fit the profile most would consider to be “home health care workers.” Now, in 2012, the percentage is much smaller.

SEIU targeted the taxpayer dollars that are provided to help the state's so-called “home health care workers” with a scheme that involved the use of a dummy employer. A stealth election was used to manipulate the 43,729 so-called “home health care workers” into the union. An important element of the scheme was that the news media be kept unaware of what was happening. The news media was shut out and the scheme was successful.

A group called the "Michigan Quality Home Care Campaign” was created in 2004-2005 to help orchestrate the “home health care workers” unionization scheme. There is now evidence that details much about the "Michigan Quality Home Care Campaign,” the origins of the dummy employer and the cover story.

Here's what seems to have occurred:

"Michigan Quality Home Care Campaign” was headquartered at 220 Bagley in Detroit. This address was the same one used by former ACORN community organizer John F. Freeman when he “certified” the dummy employer. This certification of the dummy employer was the key to the larger unionization scheme.

Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3) was the dummy employer. It was formed for that purpose. After MQC3 was formed, those behind the scheme wanted to find “something of value” the dummy employer could claim as its mission. This would provide the “cover story” used as the major argument to justify the unionization.

At about this time, Rickman Jackson arrived from the scandal-plagued Los Angeles Local 6434. He brought with him the idea for a home health care worker registry. This would be used to give MQC3 “something of value.” Some training, background checks and help with unemployment insurance was also thrown into the “something of value” mix.

Once the “home health care workers” had been unionized, SEIU began collecting dues from the taxpayer-provided checks the workers receive. The continuation of this is what is now being called the “home health care dues skim.”

So far, the SEIU has received more than $29 million from the “skim,” which can be used for various political purposes. Passage of House Bill 4003 would outlaw the “skim.” But, so far, the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has sat on the bill.

Capitol Confidential asked U.S. Senate candidate Gary Glenn to comment on the situation.

"The buck stops with Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, or in this case, $29 million scammed from parents and other home caregivers to fund SEIU union officials' socialist political agenda," Glenn said. "Surely Republican senators will eventually grow tired of letting Richardville continue to funnel money to SEIU union bosses and make a motion to bring this bill to a vote."

Last year the Michigan Legislature de-funded the MQC3. Its purpose in doing this was clearly to end the “home health care dues skim.” However, the “skim” has continued through bureaucratic juggling. Meanwhile, MQC3 now admits that it is not the employer of the home health care workers.

State bureaucrats now claim the home health care workers are co-employed by the Medicaid Home Help Program (HHP) and the individuals (or guardians of the individuals) to whom they provide care. In many cases (possibly most), the guardians are the home health care workers themselves.

In spite of the fact that it is no longer the employer, the SEIU collective bargaining agreement is still with MQC3, which apparently found some other source for its funding. Arguably, this twisted tangle is a result of behind-closed-door processes, where the news media and the public were shut out. Meanwhile, the dues continue to flow to the SEIU.

To this day, even with MQC3 de-funded and no longer claiming to be the employer, the “something of value” in MQC3 argument remains the “cover story.” It is being used by those who either don't want to see the “skim” stopped or have themselves been taken in by the “cover story.”

Here's how their “something of value” argument stacks up against the facts:

Argument #1 - MQC3 provides in-depth training to home health care providers and performs thorough background checks to promote safety, accountability and transparency. This prevents felons, sexual predators, drug abusers, and thieves from employment as care providers to our must vulnerable citizens.

Reality — Updated numbers show that there are now 60,190 “home health care workers” caught in the SEIU web. Of these, only 3,844 work for more than one client. That means only 6.4 percent are what most people would define as actual “home health care workers.”

It is now clear that the vast majority of the so-called “home health care workers” are people taking care of relatives or close friends. It's equally clear that if the “something of value” in MQC3 applies to anyone at all, it is just a small minority of the 60,190 from which the union collects dues.

Meanwhile, MQC3's much touted registry has managed to collect only 933 names in six years of existence. Yet, this registry is the argument given to keep dues flowing to the SEIU from the taxpayer-provided checks of 60,190 people. It should also be mentioned that MQC3 apparently no longer provides training.

Argument #2 - MQC3 saves taxpayers millions of dollars each year and helps seniors and people with disabilities remain healthy and independent in their own homes. A nonpartisan Anderson Economic Group study stated that the MQC3 saved Michigan millions in unemployment costs and expensive nursing home care.

Reality — These millions of dollars in savings are from the Medicaid Home Help Program, which allows persons to remain at home to receive health care instead of going to nursing homes. This “something of value” exists without the dues “skim.” Claiming it requires the unionization stretches credibility beyond its limits.

House Bill 4003 is designed to end the “home health care dues skim.” At issue is the continued exploitation of about 93 percent of the 60,190 people who were unionized through secretive actions.

“The purpose of this bill is not to end the MQC3 or any caregiver registry,” said Rep. Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt, the sponsor of HB 4003. “This is about stopping a new practice that misuses interlocal agreements to create the perception of public employees where no public employees exist.

“I don’t care who is signing these pieces of paper, they are not magic wands that can turn 1099 tax forms into W2s or make a Medicaid recipient into a public employee,” Opsommer continued. “It goes without saying that it should be impossible for the state to deduct public union dues from people who are clearly not public employees. Yet here we are, having to try to pass this law $30 million dollars in dues later. How can it be a public entity if its receiving no public dollars and has no public employees? How can government create something that it is then powerless to stop?”

There is evidence that now points to the following regarding the overall forced unionization scheme. In 2005-2006 the Michigan Quality Home Care Campaign, which operated at 220 Bagley in Detroit, was an SEIU operation. Apparently, its employees received checks from the SEIU but were instructed to deny any connection with the union.

After the covert unionization had been completed, there were still reasons to seek support and good will for the MQC3. Alleged “campaign workers” were sent into GOP lawmakers' districts to find people who could "influence" the lawmakers. These influential people were signed up as supporters of the Michigan Quality Home Care Campaign. All this was coordinated from the 220 Bagley address. But the fact that the “campaigners” were really SEIU employees was concealed.

At the time, two floors above the Michigan Quality Home Care Campaign headquarters, at 220 Bagley, there were SEIU offices used for a mock effort to unionize Michigan's childcare (daycare) workers. This false campaign was just for show.

By 2005 a deal had been struck to let two other unions unionize the childcare (daycare) workers and let SEIU unionize the so-called home healthcare workers. Those other two unions were AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and the UAW. The “forced unionization” of childcare (daycare) workers was Michigan's other unionization scam. That one was ended by Gov. Rick Snyder. However, the home healthcare dues skim continues.

Zac Altefogt, spokesman for SEIU Healthcare Michigan, did not return a phone call inviting him to comment on this article. Senate Republican leadership did not respond when offered a chance to comment.

(Editor’s note — some statistics quoted in Capitol Confidential articles on this topic in recent weeks have changed as more facts were uncovered. Generally, each updated piece of information has tended to make the situation look worse rather than better.) Also, a previous version of this article stated that AFSCME and the UAW operated their childcare unionization campaign from the 220 Bagley address. That was incorrect. According to a source, the only childcare unionization campaign headquartered at the Bagley Street site was SEIU's mock campaign.

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.