(Capital Research Center) Summary: In an effort to help their political supporters in the unions, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and the state’s legislature classified Minnesota’s home care providers as government employees for purposes of collective bargaining. Following a highly questionable vote, these home care providers were unionized. SEIU Healthcare, part of a national union closely tied to President Obama, became their union representative. Now care providers like Kris Greene are fighting back, seeking to decertify the union, in what may be the largest decertification effort in labor law history.
In Minnesota, home care providers—also known as personal care assistants (PCAs)—are individuals, usually family members, who take care of disabled persons at home and who are employed by those for whom they care. They receive a small Medicaid subsidy to assist in their efforts.
In May 2013, after the longest legislative debates in state history, the Minnesota legislature passed the Individual Providers of Direct Support Services Representation Act, and Governor Mark Dayton (D) signed the bill into law declaring that:
For the purposes of the Public Employment Labor Relations Act … individual [homecare] providers shall be considered … executive branch state employees. … This section does not require the treatment of individual providers as public employees for any other purpose.
In other words: PCAs—people who provide home care to the disabled, usually family members—are state employees in Minnesota, but only for the purpose of their possible representation by unions in collective bargaining.
PCAs do not receive the same benefits and rights as government employees. PCAs do not have the sort of employer/employee relationship with the government that government employees have. Only individuals who need care hire PCAs. These same individuals are the ones who give instructions to their PCAs, and only they can fire their PCAs. At no time is the government involved in any of these traditional employer responsibilities. The true employer is (and should be) the disabled person, not the government.
After the bill was signed, the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) held a certification election, that is, a vote to determine union representation. Most people being “represented” were taken by surprise when they learned of the vote, so it’s not surprising that the turnout was dismal. (Think of the turnout in your home precinct when there’s an unscheduled election, much less one that’s unprecedented. Other than those deeply involved in the process, how many people even know an election is occurring?)
During the BMS-supervised election, which was held on August 26, 2014, only 5,849 individuals voted in the certification election for SEIU Healthcare Minnesota despite the fact that there are 26,977 PCAs. That’s a turnout of 21.7 percent.
And of these, only 3,543 of the voters voted for union representation for Minnesota PCAs. Yet even though these few thousand voters made up only 13.1 percent of the total number of PCAs, the union won, because 3,543 (out of a possible 26,977) was a majority of those who voted. And so in August 2014, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota became the exclusive bargaining representative for all the PCAs.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota is, of course, a part of the Service Employees International Union, a major player in American politics. In the early days of the Obama administration, for example, the head of the SEIU was the most frequent visitor to the White House.
Supporters of freedom of assembly and free speech, and of limiting union representation to actual employees who want it, did not take this lying down. Now, groups are fighting this unionization in two ways: a lawsuit and a decertification campaign….