Politics & Policy

Unions vs. Self-Employed Day-Care Providers

AFSCME looks to government benefits to fill its coffers.

As union membership has fallen, union organizers have become increasingly aggressive. They have now turned to organizing recipients of government benefits — an unwelcome shock for many needy families.

In Michigan, for example, Medicaid reimburses people who care for their disabled relatives at home. This helps parents look after their disabled children while saving taxpayers from paying for more costly care at state-run facilities. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) decided to organize these at-home health-care providers.

#ad#Former governor Jennifer Granholm allowed the SEIU to mail out ballots for an “organizing election.” Over 80 percent of the ballots were never returned — either discarded as junk mail or ignored. Nonetheless, union supporters made up a majority of those few who voted, and the state recognized the SEIU.

Soon parents of disabled children saw their reimbursement checks cut by hundreds of dollars a year. The union provided families with no benefits for these dues. As one frustrated parent complained:

We’re not getting anything from them [SEIU]. 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.

After Governor Rick Snyder’s election in 2010, the Michigan legislature put a stop to the program. By then the SEIU had skimmed more than $34 million in “dues” from these families.

Now unions in Minnesota are trying to organize at-home day-care providers with a similar scheme. The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is lobbying for a bill that would let them create one statewide union of approximately 11,000 licensed and unlicensed day-care providers who qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) subsidy. The subsidy helps lower-income families pay for day care.

Unlicensed providers include self-employed in-home-care providers, those who run short-term programs such as summer camps, and relatives providing what is termed “relative care.” Grandparents who watch their own grandchildren can fall into that last category, but they must obtain recognition as legal non-licensed providers in order to receive CCAP assistance.

The legislation would authorize AFSCME to collectively bargain with the state on behalf of day-care providers and (of course) collect mandatory union dues. Day-care providers would not even get a secret ballot vote on unionizing — AFSCME would merely collect publicly signed cards, making possible this type of fraud:

Shaffer [a Minnesota child-care provider] said in 2011, she was approached by part of a door-knocking campaign for forming a childcare union in Minnesota. Shaffer said she was asked to sign a card to receive more information on the campaign, but she later learned it was actually a union authorization card.

It is hard to see how self-employed in-home day-care providers benefit from union representation, much less representation without a secret-ballot vote. AFSCME, however, would skim millions in dues off of CCAP checks.

These tactics inspired the vice president of Minnesota AFSCME Local 3400 to resign in dismay earlier this month. Kathy Stevens, a lifelong union member and vice president of Minnesota Child Care Providers Together local, told Watchdog.org, “I am not anti-union and I don’t want anybody to think I am, but I am anti what [AFSCME’s] purpose is and their mission is right now. I’m not okay with that.”

“This isn’t the way we want our profession to look,” said Stevens. “We don’t want to use people just to get what we want. This is a respectable profession, and we need to have it maintained as a respectable profession, and I don’t think that’s what’s happened.”

Ms. Stevens has a good point. Unions shouldn’t look to government benefits for children, the sick, and the disabled to fill their coffers.

— James Sherk is senior policy analyst in labor economics in the Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis.

Most Popular

White House

The Damning Inspector General’s Report

It is hard to believe that the run-up to the presidential-election year has plumbed such a depth of farcical degradation. It must be that Trump’s influence has contributed to unserious responses, but he can’t be blamed for the unutterable nonsense of his opponents and the straight men of the political class ... Read More
White House

The Damning Inspector General’s Report

It is hard to believe that the run-up to the presidential-election year has plumbed such a depth of farcical degradation. It must be that Trump’s influence has contributed to unserious responses, but he can’t be blamed for the unutterable nonsense of his opponents and the straight men of the political class ... Read More
Elections

Diversity Panic Hits the Democratic Field

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a ... Read More
Elections

Diversity Panic Hits the Democratic Field

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules. Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules. Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” ... Read More
White House

Is Trump the Only Adult in the Room?

Donald Trump certainly is mercurial at times. He can be uncouth. But then again, no president in modern memory has been on the receiving end of such overwhelmingly negative media coverage and a three-year effort to abort his presidency, beginning the day after his election. Do we remember the effort to ... Read More
White House

Is Trump the Only Adult in the Room?

Donald Trump certainly is mercurial at times. He can be uncouth. But then again, no president in modern memory has been on the receiving end of such overwhelmingly negative media coverage and a three-year effort to abort his presidency, beginning the day after his election. Do we remember the effort to ... Read More
World

The U.K. Elections Were the Real Second Referendum

In the end, it wasn’t close at all. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party met a fate to which it has been accustomed for most of the last half-century. Once again, the British roundly rejected socialism. Boris Johnson and his conservatives will form the next British government. This was no slight rejection. Labour ... Read More
World

The U.K. Elections Were the Real Second Referendum

In the end, it wasn’t close at all. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party met a fate to which it has been accustomed for most of the last half-century. Once again, the British roundly rejected socialism. Boris Johnson and his conservatives will form the next British government. This was no slight rejection. Labour ... Read More