An SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana press release announced an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its first organizing win over home care providers. According to the SEIU, the unionizing campaign “catapulted home care workers out of the depths of poverty and reinvented the American labor movement.”
From the SEIU’s account, everything concerning home care workers is all sunshine and roses. Yet the union’s organizing campaign was deceptive and should be ruled illegal under federal labor law.
Childcareunioninfo.com, a group of licensed family child care providers who oppose unionization of their private small businesses, chronicle the union’s campaign:
the Illinois was the first state to unionize family child care providers when now disgraced Governor Rod Blagovich signed an Executive Order in 2005 ordering an election of those who were serving families on the child care assistance program. Those eligible to vote included grandparents caring for their grandchildren and Family, Friend or Neighbor caregivers that were not running a licensed family child care business. Because the vote only included those caring for children on the subsidy program, many licensed, professional family child care providers were excluded from the vote. Many providers in Illinois didn’t even know an election was happening as this election was not highly publicized [Emphasis added].
In the 2005 union election, only 16,700 out of 49,000 eligible voters returned ballots. And since Illinois is a forced-unionism state, all the home care providers are forced to pay dues, whether they voted for unionization or not. Additionally, the SEIU’s dues scheme amounts to 2.1 percent of the subsidy check with a minimum of $15 per month. This has amounted to the SEIU collecting over $60 million in dues from its members.
Another SEIU selling point for unionization was obtaining healthcare for home care providers. Yet today, only 5,000 Illinois home care workers receive healthcare out of SEIU Illinois’s 30,000 members. There are also strict requirements to qualify for state-sponsored healthcare.
The SEIU’s current membership of 30,000 brings up another problem with unionization. According to Jennifer Parrish, an in-home child care business operator, “Six years after unionization, 20,000 fewer children in Illinois were being served by the Child Care and Development Fund program.”
Finally, under the National Labor Relations Act, independent contractors or small business owners, which home care workers are designated, cannot collectively bargain. Currently, there is a pending lawsuit alleging just that in Minnesota.
While the SEIU celebrates its organizing victory over the weekend, it is important to remember the workers who never voted to unionize and have no choice but to pay union dues.