More than 44,000 home care workers parted ways with SEIU Healthcare Michigan, a unit of the Service Employees International Union, after learning they did not have to join the union or pay dues. This information came to light recently in reports the union filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Thousands of the employees were allegedly forced into the union under a plan the SEIU successfully lobbied for that classified even unpaid family members caring for their elderly parents as “home health care workers.” Dues were then automatically collected from the care recipients’ Medicare or Medicaid checks.
“Family members were told they were public employees,” Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, a Michigan-based policy group, said. “They are not public employees and this was not proper. It was an underhanded scheme to get these people in the union.”
The SEIU reaped nearly $35 million from Michigan’s elderly and disabled from 2006 to last year. Of some 59,000 residents classified as home-based caregivers, about 80 percent stopped paying when they learned they did not have to.
The measure, which counted the home healthcare recipient as an employer and the caregiver as an employee, was adopted during the administration of Demcratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but abolished by Republicans including current Gov. Rick Snyder, who was elected in 2012. The election coincided with the state’s vote to end forced unionization by approving a right-to-work ballot measure. Snyder subsequently signed a bill that ended the SEIU’s dues collection scheme.
SEIU Targets Home Care Industry
This is one more reported effort on the part of the SEIU to organize home care workers. There have been successful lobbying efforts in several other states to enact legislation that easily or automatically moves workers into the union. One is a training program required in the state of Washington. The SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership, the largest home care worker training provider in the country is designed to meet the career pathway needs of Washington state’s 43,000 Home Care Aides. The program works to fill the workforce need in home care, the fastest growing occupation in the country.
The legislature in Minnesota passed a bill giving 15,000 home health-care workers, as well as 7,000 home child-care providers, the ability to join unions. In Vermont, the Governor signed a measure permitting the state’s 7,000 home health aides to unionize. In Connecticut, Legislators have passed measures enabling unions to represent the workers.
What you are seeing in your local market regarding attends to unionize home care workers. Tell us what you are seeing in the comments section below, or add a post to the Leading Home Care Network on Linkedin.