CWF in the Wall Street Journal

Posted by Olivia Grady on Monday, February 13th, 2017 at 12:30 pm - Permalink

Matt Patterson, Executive Director of the Center for Worker Freedom, had an article published in The Wall Street Journal on February 11, 2017, on the SEIU stealing Medicaid money:

These Minnesota Workers Want Nothing to Do With the SEIU

Medicaid dollars as union ‘dues'? Sure, now that home caregivers can collectively bargain. 

The Wall Street Journal Online

By Matt Patterson

‪10 February 2017 

Patricia Johansen says the union first began badgering her—and frightening her—in 2014. Ms. Johansen is a personal-care assistant who spends her days tending to her disabled granddaughter. She lives in Minnesota, where a state-run program, called PCA Choice, pays qualified assistants a modest Medicaid subsidy to help ease the burden of caring for loved ones.

In 2013 Gov. Mark Dayton signed a law that declared personal-care assistants—some of whom, like Ms. Johansen, care for their own family members—to be public employees, but only for purposes of collective bargaining. For the Service Employees International Union this was an opportunity to expand its reach. Mr. Dayton essentially had given the SEIU a green light to unionize these assistants. 

Then Ms. Johansen says the phone calls started, encouraging her to vote "yes" in a coming unionization election. Organizers also showed up at her door. She describes them as "pushy" people who tried to get into her home to "persuade" her. This scared Ms. Johansen, a senior citizen who lives alone with her granddaughter. She says she told the union many times that she had no interest in joining. 

In the summer of 2014 the ballots for the union election went out to the 27,000 personal-care assistants the SEIU claimed were in the bargaining unit. When the results came back, they showed a union victory: 3,543 workers voted "yes," and 2,329 voted "no." Low turnout for sure, but under state labor law the union needed only a majority of the votes cast. Ms. Johansen doesn't recall getting a ballot, but she told me in December that if she had received one, she certainly would have voted against. 

The SEIU and the state agreed on a contract for the workers, which went into effect the following summer. As "dues" the union would receive 3% of Medicaid payments, up to $948 a year, from personal-care assistants who opted to join.

Sometime in the fall of 2015, Patricia's son-in-law noticed that union dues were being taken out of her check, even though she had never agreed to join. She was told that she had supposedly signed a dues-deduction agreement, and that the union had her card on file, with her signature. This was impossible, she insisted, demanding that the SEIU send her a copy. When it arrived, the signature was clearly a forgery—and a poor one at that. Ms. Johansen is left-handed and writes in an elegant and distinctive cursive. The card was filled out in crude, block letters and the signature was clumsy. She faxed the union office a notarized copy of her driver's license, and then demanded her money be returned and the deductions stopped. The union wrote back: "Although our investigation of this matter was inconclusive we have decided to refund all of your dues." How nice.

Another personal-care assistant, who asked that her name be withheld for fear of retaliation, described similar union harassment around 2013 and 2014. The 29-year-old single mother characterized the frequent visits and phone calls as "stalking, absolutely." Eventually, she told one of the union representatives that she would be voting no when her ballot came. It never did. 

Is she certain there was no ballot? "Positive," she tells me. "They scared me. I didn't want them anywhere near my patient or my money. I looked for that ballot every day in the mail. It never came.”

Nevertheless, in August of 2015 she noticed that union dues were being taken out of her pay. Although she complained repeatedly to union leadership, for months the dues continued to be deducted. Like Ms. Johansen, she saved her pay stubs and correspondence and allowed me to review them. Unfortunately, she says she was told that a refund wasn't possible.

Now a group of personal-care assistants, including Ms. Johansen, are waging a legal battle to decertify the SEIU. Their coalition, called MNPCA, has already collected authorization cards from over 4,500 workers, according to Doug Seaton a Minneapolis attorney representing the group. Mr. Seaton hopes that the state Bureau of Mediation Services will accept the cards as sufficient showing to trigger another secret ballot election. Mr. Seaton began submitting the cards in December, and he hopes the state will quickly render a decision.

If labor authorities "don't fully address these concerns," Mr. Seaton says he will take these stories—the missing ballots, the forged signature—to district court in a lawsuit against the SEIU. The union has denied any wrongdoing.

This is a case that ought to interest Washington. The same tactic of unionizing home-health workers is playing out in at least nine other states. That's something worthy of concern from the Trump administration—and Congress. A law to prevent Medicaid funds from being used as union dues would be a strong measure for assistants like Ms. Johansen, from a president who has promised to protect American workers. 

Mr. Patterson is executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom at Americans for Tax Reform

To read the article at the Wall Street Journal, please click here.