Employee freedom

Crockett on forced unionization and the monopoly power of public unions.

Last November, Center of the American Experiment launched The Employee Freedom Project, an effort intended “to address the monopoly power of public unions while providing greater freedom of choice to Minnesota’s public employees,” according to Kim Crockett, who directs the project.

The inaugural event featured Doug Seaton, of Seaton, Peters & Revnew, who worked
with child care providers to defeat Governor Dayton’s attempt to use executive authority to order union elections for private sector groups: personal care attendants and child care providers. Also, Professor John Raudabaugh, of the Ave Maria School of Law, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board; and F. Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The event was co-sponsored by American for Lawful Unionism (ALU) and The Federalist Society.

Some background. Under legislation passed in 2013, public unions are expanding their revenue and base of influence by using welfare subsidies to redefine who is a public employee in Minnesota. According to Crockett, SEIU recently unionized up to 27,000 personal care attendants (PCAs) who are paid via Medicaid, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2014 that said PCAs are not full-fledged public employees. That election is being challenged in court by Doug Seaton’s firm.

Another public union, AFSCME, was also given the legislative green light to organize family child care providers if their clients receive a state child care subsidy. That “card campaign” was launched late in 2015. As we go to print, there is no outcome but roughly 10,000 child care providers and parents are already affected. “Between the effort to unionize them and the Governor’s attempt to move pre-K children into
the public schools, the number of child care providers has dropped drastically in Minnesota,” said Crockett. This means working parents have fewer high quality choices. “This is also a poorly-concealed attempt to create 3,000 new dues-paying union positions at the expense of our youngest learners, hard-working parents and providers.”

The Center has allied itself with Americans for Lawful Unionism (ALU), a new 501c3 that was formed to educate the targets of unionization and fund litigation challenging forced unionization laws.

“Employee Freedom is much more than Right-to-Work,” Crocket says. “It means first, challenging the state’s attempt to unionize private sector jobs, and then freeing citizens in pubic unions from forced support of the union’s political agenda. On a broader scale, it also means freeing Minnesota’s political and legislative process from the undue influence of public sector unions.”