'It's hard to believe the union could get away with something like this'
Ex-Teamster says it's 'thievery' that the SEIU is taking money he could use to take care of his mother
To most onlookers, the Glossops are an example of a loving family dedicated to each other.
Steven Glossop moved back in with his mom Linda four years ago after she had a stroke when she was recovering from heart surgery. She needed constant care and he knew he would provide it. When he has to run errands or go to work, he arranges for someone — often his wife — to stay with his mother.
To the Service Employees International Union, the Glossops are just another chance to make a buck.
The Glossops, by virtue of getting Medicaid money from the state, are members of the SEIU thanks to a unionization scheme orchestrated in 2005 when Jennifer Granholm was governor.
“This whole thing just gets me,” Steven Glossop said. “It's hard to believe the union could get away with something like this. They (the union) can’t do anything about things like working conditions. They have no idea what goes on inside our house each day. I'd say the biggest effect that being in this union has had on me is them taking money from our checks. To me, it's just thievery.”
The Glossop family is one of two being represented by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation in a case against the SEIU over unfair labor practices. The legal action asks the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) to reverse the decision that recognized the forced unionization of those workers nearly seven years ago. It also asks that the money being taken from the Medicaid checks of disabled and elderly people in Michigan be immediately ended and for the return of about six months' worth of dues, or about $3 million.
In 2005, the SEIU pulled off a forced unionization of Michigan home-based caregivers like the Glossops. The target of the scheme was the modest Medicaid checks the caregivers receive to help them provide home care.
To date, the SEIU has taken more than $32 million from the Medicaid checks of Michigan's elderly and disabled. Much of that money has been used to bankroll Proposal 4, a proposal on the November ballot that will lock the forced unionization scheme into the state constitution.
The union is trying to get this in the state constitution because earlier this year Gov, Rick Snyder signed legislation into law that ended the forced unionization. The SEIU later took the issue to federal court and was allowed to continue taking the money.
Prop 4 supporters have used a variety of stories to try and justify the ballot initiative, but none have much truth to them. The union and its supporters have said the ballot proposal will ensure that people can stay in their homes, ignoring that a federal program has been in place since 1981 already guarantees this. They also have said it ensures safe care because background checks will be done. This too, has already been in place.
“Who would I want to have a background check done on?” Steven Glossop said. “I have no need for background checks.”
An estimated 75 percent of the people participating in the Home Help Program are like the Glossops, taking care of family or friends.
The Glossops also are like most of the roughly 44,000 unionized workers who had no idea they had been unionized.
"Back when I received the first check I noticed that dues had been taken out of it," Steven Glossop said. "I thought, 'I'm in a union, that could be good.' I thought I must be a state employee. The only other union I was ever in was the Teamsters union. That was when I worked for a beverage company. Back then, they (the Teamsters) had to negotiate for us.
"Later I saw that all the union (SEIU) was doing was taking our money," he said. "I wonder what most taxpayers would say if they knew that some of taxpayer dollars being paid to help families out is being taken by the union."
Home-based caregivers in the Home Help Program are not state employees.
"I remembered that when I was in the Teamsters union, they issued me a union card," Steven Glossop said. "Time went by and I didn't get a card. So I called up the union and asked about it. The guy I talked with assured me I'd have one sent to me. But it didn't happen.
"I called the union again and spoke with a woman. She said I'd get a card, but I never did. Now, I've been in the union four years and still haven't received a union card."
Glossop said that at one point he received some information from the union that included a breakdown of how it spends its money. Listed among the expenses were union cards.
"I finally decided I wanted to get out of the union," he said. "I called the union up and told them. They sent me a packet. It was full of information about why I should stay in the union.
"It felt like they were bullying me. Then I found out that, even if I left the union, I'd still have to keep paying what they call a fair share. This would be 66 percent of what the dues had been.
"To me, it seems like the union is power hungry," Glossop said. "I can't believe all of this stuff. I've been forced into this union that I never signed up for. It seems like we all just keep losing more and more freedoms and liberties."
Glossop said someone from the SEIU contacted him a few weeks ago and wanted to know if he'd received everything (information, etc.) from the union that he'd been trying to get. He said he suspects the SEIU's sudden interest in him was a temporary development connected to the upcoming election.
"I'm just hoping at some point this will be done with," he said.
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.