SEIU Raids Minnesota Medicaid by Matt Patterson
Minnesotans are renowned for their pleasant and reserved disposition.
Along with this famously Scandinavian character profile often comes an extreme reticence to intrude in the affairs of others, or to presume on their behalf.
The Minnesota state legislature and the local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are obviously cut from a different cloth.
Recently, the union’s stooges in the capital declared some 27,000 of the state’s personal-care assistants (PCAs) “public employees” – but only for purposes of collective bargaining, i.e., so they can be unionized.
As a result, the SEIU is siphoning 3% of its members’ very modest Medicaid supplement.
You see, PCAs are people who have chosen to be the primary caregiver of a disabled person; in the vast majority of cases, a family member (usually a spouse or child). Some of the disabilities are so severe that the caregiver is unable to work outside the home. And so Minnesota established a PCA program which allows them to receive some Medicaid support.
In the old days, many of the disabled would have been institutionalized in a government-run facility, a system that was costly and scary. The current PCA Medicaid program allows these people to stay at home and be cared for by someone who loves them.
It is that rare government program that works and makes good sense, both morally and fiscally.
But the SEIU wants its cut.
What has the union done to deserve this money? Not a thing. Since the contract was put in place on July 1, 2015, the union claims to have secured an increase in their subsidy, bragging on its website:
Key victories in the contract include workers receiving a paid time off benefit for the first time (five days of paid time off for full-time workers), [and] raising the pay floor from $9 to $11 by 2016.
Does the union really think these PCAs are stupid?
The state can increase the subsidy, and has done so periodically for years without the union. The so-called “paid time off” the SEIU claims to have secured for these brave women (and they are mostly women) is also a crock: Who can take time off caring for a sick child? It’s not an assembly line.
Indeed, the collective bargaining contract puts mandatory limits on their hours. As noted in a Daily Caller profile of Kris Greene, a Minnesota PCA who has cared for her daughter for 24 years:
The union…has made it so home health care workers cannot work for more than 40 hours a week, which is nearly impossible for those taking care of loved ones.
The very idea that these caregivers, who work in the home for their loved one, can be thought of as “public employees” defies common sense. In Harris HRS +0.23% v. Quinn, the Supreme Court in its wisdom found that the public-employee argument for home care workers is specious at best, and that they can’t be forced to join the union or pay agency fees.
One wonders if the Minnesota PCAs know that they cannot be compelled to financially support the union they didn’t ask for and do not want.
Sure, the SEIU claims that there was an election and that they were voted in, but this, too, is snake oil: Only about 5,800 of these home-care workers bothered to fill out an “election” card, and of those only 3,500 voted in favor of the union.
That’s right, 3,500 unionized 27,000. That’s not democracy, that’s a perversion of democracy.
The PCAs have been forced into a collective bargaining agreement in clear violation of their First Amendment freedoms of speech and assembly. The good news is that there is a legal remedy for their plight – decertification. Kris Greene and her fellow PCAs are determined to collect enough authorization cards to call for a new vote and kick the union out.
They are determined that, this time, the PCAs have all the facts and are fully informed. They have launched a website, decertify.org, that allows PCAs to generate an authorization card, which they can then print and mail in.
And they have established a new online community, MNPCA.org, designed to be a shared resource for those who care for loved ones at home, and to prove they can help one another without a union.
If Mrs. Greene and her allies are successful, they will have pulled off the largest decertification in United States labor history. For the SEIU, millions of dollars in dues are at stake. And as for the politicians who herded the PCAs into this corrupt bargain, they need a rich and fat union to keep filling their campaign coffers.
One shakes in disgust.
For the PCAs themselves, at stake there is the money they would surrender to the union. But, there is also the nontrivial matter of personal liberty, and the integrity of the public program they have come to rely upon and desperately need to remain solvent and efficient.
As Ms. Greene notes:
I am very thankful for [the PCA program], and I think the union is taking advantage of that and I really want to make sure that people have this vote and to get back to what we do, taking care of our children.
Blackmail, vandalism, intimidation– these have long been the tools of organized labor. But pilfering from disabled children?
That’s a new low.
Matt Patterson is the Executive Director of the Center for Worker Freedom, a special project of Americans for Tax Reform. Mpatterson.firstname.lastname@example.org.