Michigan residents who care for disabled family members forced to pay union dues

A Michigan man who has cared for his mother after heart surgery and a stroke during her recovery found that he has been paying dues to a union he did not voluntarily join.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation reports that Steven Glossop, an Isabella County resident, has been paying union dues from Medicaid payments, and when he contacted the Service International Employees Union asking to be released from the union, that request was denied.

“It’s like I had no rights. I had no choice. You are part of this union,” Glossop said.

In 2004, the SEIU unionized tens of thousands of home health aides in the state, including family members whose loved ones receive Medicaid subsidies. A shell corporation was created – Michigan Quality Community Care Council – through an agreement between the DCH and Tri-County Aging Consortium. Two years later, the DCH started taking a percentage of Medicaid payments and sending them to SEIU as “dues.” Mackinac Center Legal Foundation says the DCH has taken more than $30 million from the state’s vulnerable residents.

Although the Michigan Bureau of Employment Relations says they sent out 43,000 ballots to home health aides to vote on the unionization question, fewer than 20 percent returned those ballots. Some, like Rob and Pat Haynes, who will care for their adult children, who live with cerebral palsy, say they didn’t get a ballot, or would not have recognized it if they did.

Seven years after the SEIU unionized home health aides, legislators de-funded the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3) which continued to operate because the SEIU and MQC3 signed a contract on the day that then Gov. Rick Snyder signed SB 1018, which defined home health workers as private citizens, not government employees. This designation meant that home health workers were not subject to mandatory collective bargaining.

Eventually, the SEIU paid damages to named plaintiffs, and the Michigan Court of Appeals said there was no class action status.

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