Forced unionization of in-home care workers back on Minnesota agenda

posted at 10:41 am on December 13, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Remember this lovely chestnut from 2011?  Governor Mark Dayton tried to bypass the Minnesota legislature to force an organizing election among in-home health workers funded by Medicaid, and got slapped down by a judge for violating the separation of powers in his attempt to rule by fiat.  Now that Minnesotans have given Dayton a legislature controlled by the DFL, unions want the legislature to force an organizing election in order to grab a new revenue stream from taxpayers:

One of the state’s largest unions will be approaching the all-DFL government for the authority to unionize thousands of in-home personal care assistants – the people who care for elderly and disasbled [sic] people in their homes.

The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, was one of the unions that sought last year to organize in-home child care workers. That effort failed, after running into opposition from the Republican-controlled Legisalture [sic] and the courts. …

This year’s effort could affect thousands of care workers. It would not apply to those directly employed by agencies, who already have the right to organize unions; rather, it would cover those in the so-called “self-directed” program, in which the workers are hired and fired by the person receiving the care.

In other words, there is no “management” with which the union will negotiate.  The workers get paid in large part through Medicaid based on federal and state government formulas, and are hired individually by the disabled and their families.  A not-insignificant number of these providers are the family members themselves who stay home rather than take jobs, accepting the subsidies so that they can care for their family members. These people would be not only have to give up opportunities to earn a living to provide that care, but then would also be forced to pay the SEIU for doing so.

And guess what?  Most of them won’t even get a vote on unionization if the DFL follows the same path as Dayton’s executive order last year, as Tina Korbe wrote:

But here’s the catch: The only child care providers eligible to vote on whether to unionize are those providers that are state-licensed and state-subsidized. So a small fraction of the providers will vote to unionize — and then, more than likely, all Minnesota childcare providers will be forced to pay union dues.

Open Market’s Trey Kovacs explained this at the time:

To unionize a class of workers, Minnesota’s Labor Relations Act calls for a majority of workers to vote for union representation. In the vote to unionize child care providers, the majority of workers are excluded from voting. Out of 11,000 child care providers, less than 4,300 are eligible to vote. Eligible voters are state-licensed and -subsidized child care providers. To make matters worse Minnesota is a forced-unionism state. Gov. Dayton’s E.O. is unclear if the 6,000-plus child care providers ineligible to vote will be forced to pay their “fair share” dues to the unions. Given Gov. Dayton’s history of union favoritism, there is little doubt compulsory dues will be forced on all child care providers.

Bear in mind, too, that these workers have considered themselves independent operators until now.  The lawsuit that stopped Dayton’s EO came from this group of workers, not from their clients.  This effort interferes with the private contractual relationship between client and provider on the basis that any state subsidy indirectly or directly received makes these workers public employees — an absurd claim, but one which we can bet that the DFL-controlled legislature will cheer.

Elections do have consequences.  Minnesota families and taxpayers are about to discover some of them, and pretty quickly, too.


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