News Story

Study Says Most Home Health Care Workers Taking Care of Family, Friends

SEIU has taken more than $31M from workers; union 'shellgame' hurts disabled

A majority of people netted in the 2005 unionization of home health care workers are relatives or friends taking care of loved ones, according to a study being used by supporters of a potential ballot proposal that could lock the scheme into the state constitution.

This is significant because one of the main reasons unions use to explain their existence is the protection of workers who are members. In this case, those workers are being protected by the Service Employees International Union against the people for whom they work — mainly their own family and friends.

In 2005, the SEIU targeted Michigan's Home Help Program as a potential dues-producing source. To date, the SEIU has taken more than $31 million from mostly unsuspecting workers who have been forced into the unionization scheme.

Under the Home Help Program, elderly patients and others suffering from various ailments can be cared for at home instead of being placed in nursing homes or other institutions. Virtually no one opposes the current Home Help Program, which exists with or without a proposed ballot proposal.

However, backers of the "Keep Home Care Safe" proposal are trying to get it passed by tricking voters into thinking the proposal would actually create the program, despite the fact that it already exists.

"The best salespeople can convince you to buy something you already have, like selling ice in the Antarctic," said Rep. Paul Opsommer, R-Dewitt, "This SEIU-supported ballot proposal also ignores the fact that so many of the people it would ensnare into paying dues are just family members of loved ones who have no interest in being on a caregiver registry. They already have their hands full just taking care of grandma or grandpa. If the proposal is passed, they will continue to be forced to pay dues as if they were interested in taking care of multiple people they don't even know. Where is the justice in that?"

Supporters of the ballot proposal like to say that those who get dues taken out of their checks are having it done because they are "hired" as caregivers. Yet there is scant evidence to indicate how many of the 44,000 caregivers fit this description.

In fact, according to an Anderson Economic Group report offered by the Michigan Quality Community Care Council, the dummy employer that was set up to help facilitate the scheme, most workers are taking care of family or friends.

That also helps explain why in six-plus years, the MQC3 has only collected 933 names of people to add to a registry of home health care workers despite roughly 44,000 having been unionized. People taking care of family or friends don't need to add their names to a registry that ostensibly is supposed to do background checks.

"When pushed into a corner, the creators of this ballot proposal have to admit that we already have a program to keep people out of nursing homes, so the next shell in the game deals with the need for a registry," Rep. Opsommer said. "For the minority of people who want to be on a registry, they could either do that privately, without the need for unionizing everyone else who is just taking care of their grandparent, or it could be done within government with just one or two full-time employees. And there would be no need to register everyone, as I can't imagine grandpa wanting to run a criminal background check on his own grandson. It just makes no sense.

"The real pea in this shellgame is the attempt to force union dues from average citizens who are not public employees and are just receiving Medicaid money to take care of loved ones at home," Rep. Opsommer said. "Everything else is just an attempt to distract voters from the true intention of this proposal."

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.