Members of the state’s newest public employee union are not really public employees at all – quite the trick.
And pretty slick. As in 17 other states (so far), independent Wisconsin service workers, paid with state or federal dollars, were just too tempting a target for the unions to pass up.
In Wisconsin, it’s the Wisconsin Quality Home Care Authority, hatched out of pixie dust in the 2009-2011 state budget. Details of the virgin birth are here. The stated goal for the newly formed QHCA is to provide a “forum for efforts to increase the number of individual home care providers in the state and improve quality of care.”
Be assured. QHCA exists solely to serve as the “employer” for independent home care providers who contract directly with clients – their real employers. For when a state agency can be labeled as a so-called “employer,” the so-called “employees” can then be unionized.
Providers working for a private home care or county agency need not sign up with this QHCA. The same thing is true of a worker helping a family member, for example, and not desiring additional referrals. All other home care providers who are ultimately paid via any myriad of government assistance programs have been encouraged to place their name on QHCA’s “registry list.” As of now (since the QHCA was formed less than a year ago), 5,500 home care providers are on that list.
The applicable state statute “permits, but does not require” home care providers to form a union. But the SEIU needed only to “demonstrate a showing of interest” of a mere 3% (about 165) of those 5,500 providers on the QHCA’s list in order to be given that complete list, with all providers’ contact information.
Wow. Your state agency is mandated to give away tons of personal information to the union. And, providers may not opt out of having their name and contact information supplied to the union.
Home care workers were warned they would receive “several mailings from the labor organization.” When asked if an independent home care worker is forced to join the union, the QHCA says:
No one can be forced to join a union. The new law gives independent home care workers the option to organize into a statewide union if they so choose. Even if a person chooses not to join the union he/she will be represented if the majority of votes favor the union.
The time for forced dues is coming. The stealth organizing via Wisconsin’s state budget led to a campaign and election; the union won that election May 6 of this year. 1,999 of 5,500 providers voted, with 23% of them, or 1,249 voting yes, 750 voting no and 3,500 not voting. Next will come the collective bargaining.
Effective July 1, 2011, QHCA providers must charge, at minimum, collectively bargained wages and very likely will have mandatory union dues deducted from reimbursements. Of the 17 states with similarly unionized service employees, 14 have compulsory dues. The remaining three operate under executive orders, as they must, in right-to-work states. Wisconsin home care providers will most likely be surprised, just as in Michigan and Illinois, by union dues being deducted from payments.
Michigan unions have had phenomenal success with their stealth organizing. But workers are fighting back:
With little fanfare, 42,000 personal care assistants were absorbed into the Service Employees International Union in 2005 and 40,000 home-based day care workers were added to the AFSCME-UAW union in 2006.
Neither effort to unionize became public knowledge until more than three years later when the Mackinac Center for Public Policy filed a lawsuit. Some of the daycare workers complained when they learned that some of their state subsidy checks were being docked for union dues.
Independent workers are fighting the stealth organizing in Illinois as well.
When it happens sometime after July 1, 2011, any Wisconsin providers surprised by mandatory union dues are welcome to call on the National Right to Work Foundation. They know how to help workers fight this stuff.
With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, a group of home-based personal care providers today [April 22, 2010] filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against Governor Pat Quinn and union officials for their efforts to force Illinois personal care providers under unwanted union boss control.
The suit stems from an executive order issued by disgraced former-Governor Rod Blagojevich shortly after his election, later codified, in which over 20,000 personal care providers who care for individuals with disabilities were designated as “public employees” of the state of Illinois for the purpose of granting Service Employees International Union (SEIU) bosses monopoly “representation” and forc[ing] dues privileges over them.
-June 16, 2010
Jo Egelhoff authors FoxPolitics.net