Another Case Showing Why People Shouldn’t Be Forced Into Unions
Labor unions have been known to do many despicable things to grab dues money from workers who don’t want anything to do with them. A current Minnesota case is about as bad as you’ll ever find.
In 2013, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) got one of its favored politicians, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, to sign an order declaring that home healthcare providers who receive Medicaid money to care for disabled family members were government employees. But they were “employees” only because that made them eligible for unionization. The SEIU figured that it had a good shot at finagling a victory in an election, which would then lead to a nice infusion of new dues money.
The election, conducted under the auspices of the friendly state bureaucracy, was done entirely through mail-in ballots and under its rules, a victory required only a majority of the votes cast. When the votes were counted in 2014, 3,543 were in favor of the union and 2,306 against. There were about 27,000 home healthcare providers, so with just 13 percent of the total number, the SEIU was declared the representative of all 27,000.
Nearly 24,000 home caregivers had become union members without their consent or even over their dissent.
Some of them were surprised to learn about this, which they discovered only when their checks from the government arrived with a deduction for union dues. Three percent of the money these home caregivers had counted on to cover the cost of assisting disabled family members had been skimmed off and deposited in the union’s treasury. It’s another example of, in Frederic Bastiat’s useful phrase, “legal plunder.”
Consequently, many of the SEIU “members” are fighting to get the union decertified. What they’re learning in the process is most interesting. Kevin Mooney’s recent Daily Signal article, “Home Caregivers, Alleging Fraud, Push to Decertify Union That Deducts Dues,” shows what they are up against.
Opponents of being dragooned into the union submitted more than 6,000 signatures calling for a new election to have it decertified. That, however, was not enough for the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation, even though it was far more than the number who voted for the SEIU. An attorney hired by the caregivers who want out of the union began to investigate the original election and made some startling findings. Many of the ballots in the election had been sent to addresses where no one lived – vacant homes and commercial buildings.
Mooney raises these questions about the fairness and validity of the election: “So did SEIU mail ballots to all 27,000 personal care assistants who were eligible to vote in 2014: Or did the union mail ballots only to individuals it calculated would be most likely to vote yes?” Indeed, and I think we also have to wonder if some of the “yes” ballots weren’t fake or procured by the kind of pressure and deception that union field operatives are so skilled at exercising.
One of the dissidents (called Mike Barton in the article, but that’s a pseudonym the family insists on using in hopes of avoiding harassment), said, “If they don’t get what they want the first time, they come back with Plan B; they come back with another form to get your signature in some way. That’s what they wanted. They wanted my wife’s signature. The union is like a tapeworm latching onto the PCA Choice program, and as more money comes out, you have to ask yourself if the Legislature is going to keep the program going if it just means more money going to the union.”
More evidence of the way the union and the Democratic administration are acting in league is the fact that the state is appealing a ruling by a district judge that requires the state to give the dissidents an up-to-date list of all the caregivers who have been roped into the SEIU. It’s hard to believe there is any reason to fight this request other than the desire to hinder the decertification drive.
The best short-run outcome would be for the dissidents to win the right to have a new election and that election would be run fairly and the union would lose the “right” to divert three percent of the funds meant for families to care for the disabled into its coffers. In the long run, however, the true solution is to pull the plug on compulsory unionism once and for all.
Unions like the SEIU should be free to solicit individuals to join and pay fees just like any other service organization, but they must also be required to accept “no” for an answer when people don’t want to join, and allow those who do but later change their minds to drop out without any harassment.
In short, we should depoliticize unions so they have to operate under the same rules as other private groups. Do that and cases like this one no longer arise.
Originally published on Forbes.