Unions were originally created to protect workers and fight for their rights. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), however, has lost sight of this principle. In the past decade, the union has unrelentingly manipulated Michigan home health care providers.
Seven years ago, the SEIU craftily teamed with the State of Michigan to form a government agency that acted as a dummy employer for home health care providers in Michigan. This “employer,” the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3), created an imaginary relationship between these self-employed workers and the SEIU. Even though it did not bargain on their behalf or provide any tangible benefits, the SEIU hoped to skim union dues from the wages of these workers.
Home health care providers generally receive Medicaid payments for the care they provide. Often those receiving Medicaid are the least fortunate in society: low-income adults caring for their disabled family members. Thanks to SEIU, these impoverished adults are now forced to pay union dues without any reciprocation.
In 2007, the SEIU sent ballots out to around 44,000 health care providers, but fewer than 8,000 voted. Many of the providers did not respond to the union ballots, as they supposed that no union possessed the audacity to represent self-employed workers and the campaign was intentionally kept out of media spotlight. Despite less than 20 percent of these workers voting for union representation, the SEIU still won the election. As a result, all home health care workers are now considered dues-paying members of the SEIU since Michigan lacks a right-to-work law. Consequently, over $30 million has been skimmed from home health care providers’ Medicaid paychecks since 2007.
This scheme not only affects the health care workers who have had dues taken from their checks. It also affects the taxpayers who provide the funding for those Medicaid checks. As a result, $30 million in taxpayer dollars has gone straight to the SEIU’s hefty bank account, instead of providing health care for the Michiganders who need it.
Eventually the State of Michigan saw through the scheme and defunded MQC3. Though SEIU, among others, donated to MQC3 late last year to keep it operational. The union, which donated $12,000, also had tremendous incentives to support the dummy government agency they created. By keeping the agency functional, SEIU could continue to skim millions from providers labeled as government workers.
Furthermore, the SEIU did not acknowledge this donation in their annual LM-2. Unions are required to file annual disclosure reports with the federal Office of Labor Management Standards, which include everything from salaries to furniture purchases. But the SEIU conveniently forgot to disclose the amount donated to MQC3. Since the donation, SEIU has successfully skimmed around $3 million from Michigan’s home healthcare workers just by keeping MQC3 alive. Taxpayers have the right to know where their money is being spent, but the SEIU seems uninterested in reporting its actions to the general public as required by state law.
In November, a brazen ballot initiative will put home health care workers into the spotlight once again. If the ballot passes, the State of Michigan must create the Michigan Quality Home Care Council — a near exact copy of the defunct MQC3. The ballot initiative would also lock about 42,000 of these health care workers into a long-term contract with SEIU Healthcare Michigan. The SEIU seems bent on milking the Medicaid payments of home health care workers, even though many of these workers express little interest in union activities.
Michiganders should remember that unions are not the answer for every problem workers face. Rather, the SEIU’s sneaky behavior has put an unnerving truth on display: it has forgotten its most basic responsibility to help the worker.