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The New Normal? DHS Partners with Extremist SEIU to Administer Medicaid Program for the Disabled

I wrote recently about the speed with which the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has embedded itself in the PCA program run by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). But I did not really show you what I meant.

The SEIU is hard-left leaning political player. Oh, and it represents its members in collective bargaining, too. (Take a look at SEIU’s Blog to see just how extreme it is.)

Personal Care Attendants at MNPCA.org who are working to protect the Medicaid program from the SEIU, were shocked when two brochures arrived in the mail recently.

One brochure offers “FREE Classroom Training” at “campuses statewide through Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.” It features a woman, Francis Hall, who is described as a “Home Care Worker.” She looked familiar so I checked the SEIU’s 2016 990 on file with the IRS. Ms. Hall is listed an “Ex Officio” Individual Trustee or Director on the federal filing.

I recognized Francis Hall from the contract negotiations between SEIU and DHS (or one of the many hearings I have attended). SEIU is very good at “enrolling” people in their union by hiring them and involving them in things like negotiations with the state. They are often featured in stories or op eds in the Star Tribune (whereas PCA who oppose the union are ignored by the paper unless I write an op ed).

The other brochure features another “Home Care Worker.” Like the other brochure, it is written in English, Hmong and Somali. It advertises a “FREE Training Conference” on September 17.

Both brochures were sent out by the state government/DHS to in-home PCAs who were unionized in 2014 with the help of Gov. Mark Dayton. Note that the DHS logo is prominently located next to the SEIU logo.

You can see both brochures here.

When these brochures arrived, we immediately heard from the PCAs fighting this union. They objected to the intrusion of the SEIU into a program that has made taking care of a disabled family member or friend at home possible, and its elevation alongside DHS.

Catherine Hunter, a Burnsville Mom and PCA to several disabled children, told me, “When I saw the DHS and SEIU logo side by side, it hit me. The Dayton administration is giving the SEIU enormous and inappropriate influence over a Medicaid program that is vital to my family, and thousands of families across Minnesota. Training is important but the SEIU does not represent me and I do not want them anywhere near the trainings or this program. DHS should be talking to me, not the SEIU. “

Why did DHS put SEIU on the brochure?

SEIU does not pay for the trainings even though they are taking in about $4.7 million a year in dues from low paid PCAs. The trainings are all funded by the taxpayer.

And here is the kicker: SEIU negotiated a $500 dollar stipend, again paid for by taxpayers, for PCAs to attend trainings. We think when SEIU members realized they were paying up to $948 a year to the SEIU, the union got some blowback—and talked DHS into the stipend to offset the high dues.

I personally make a point of telling SEIU supporters about the high dues every chance I get. They are always shocked and say they did not know the union was taking that much out of paychecks.

What is behind the elevation of SEIU and what does it mean for the PCA program?

Trainings offer the SEIU an opportunity to get in front of PCAs; to become the “go-to” resource for PCAs. To take credit for trainings that the state provides to PCAs so that SEIU can imbed itself in the program.

If MNPCA does not win its fight to decertify the SEIU, this will be the “new normal” for Medicaid programs in Minnesota. In other states where this scheme has succeeded, a meeting with SEIU is mandatory (yes, mandatory!). The union tried to get mandatory meetings in Minnesota this year and failed. They did, however, get a provision that requires new PCAs to go to training.

What if you are a PCA who has been taking care of your own child or spouse? Kris Greene, is a PCA for her daughter, Meredie and the lead plaintiff in the fight against SEIU. “I don’t need the SEIU to tell me how to take care of my daughter. I am not a state employee and the SEIU does not represent me or my family, “she said.

It will only be a matter of time before these trainings become mandatory for all PCAs. And a meeting with the union, just to chat about the benefits of the union, could also become mandatory.

That is unless MNPCA wins their fight to decertify this union. Go to www.MNPCA.org to learn more.

SEIU “won” in a 2014 election with support from only 13% (4,543) of the 27,000 eligible PCAs voting “Yes.”

Most of those 27,000 PCAs had never heard of the SEIU. They did not know there was an election or what it meant for them or their families. Many PCAs never got a ballot. MNPCA is concerned that ballots might have been forged.

But PCAs know about SEIU now: MNPCA and the Center have been in regular contact with them. Their attorney Doug Seaton says MNPCA has or will file at least 9,000 cards calling for a new election, and may even break the 10,000 mark by this fall.

DHS is supposed to be running the Medicaid PCA program, designed and funded to keep disabled people in their homes. I guess it is now job-sharing with the SEIU.

Who would have ever guessed that people who care for the disabled in their homes would have to fight their own state government to protect a precious Medicaid benefit from a dues-skimming scheme by the SEIU?

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