Home Care Workers Support Trump Regulation

For years, some blue states have been automatically deducting union dues from the checks of Medicaid home care providers. Many of these caregivers are relatives or friends of the person they care for and did not wish to join a union. The main beneficiary of this dues skim is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Under Obama, a rule was implemented to authorize this scheme. Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that would rescind the Obama-Era regulation.

If the proposed rule takes effect, only deductions specifically permitted by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be allowed. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or remain in a union will still be able to do so; they will just need to make arrangements to pay their dues.

Although it might seem to be an obscure or unimportant issue, there is a lot at stake here. For example, it has been estimated that SEIU collects $200 million a year by skimming dues from 500,000 caregivers. As part of the rule-making process, CMS requested comments on the proposed rule, and over 6,000 comments were submitted during the month-long comment period. Among those thousands of comments were these from Medicaid home care providers, which help to show the significance of the matter.

Linda from Oregon wrote, “I am a caregiver for a Medicaid client…..I support [the proposed rule]. The union is against everything I stand for in my life…I want out…”

A Californian wrote, “I am a care giver for a Medicaid client and in strong support of [the proposed rule]… The federal law is the only protection I have against the SEIU union and collaborative state political intervention. “

A commenter from Washington wrote the following:

I support [the proposed rule]. I am a caregiver for a Medicaid client, and my experience with SEIU 775 has been negative. The US Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn established in 2014 that caregivers serving Medicaid clients could not be required to financially support a labor union. Ever since, SEIU 775 and the state of Washington have worked to keep [caregivers] paying union dues whether they want to or not.

Another Washingtonian wrote the following:

I strongly support [the proposed rule]!

I am a caregiver for a Medicare client and have had horrible experiences with SEIU 775. I do not wish to be a union member yet this union forces itself onto people… I discovered the union was having union dues withheld from my paycheck when I was a non-member. I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get that resolved. Also, when training, the union representative shows up and spends 45 minutes to an hour pitching to everyone like they are required to sign into the union. Many of these trainees do not speak or understand English language very well and end-up signing into the union without really understanding. This practice needs to stop.

Finally, Kris from Minnesota submitted the following comment:

SEIU is taking advantage of modestly paid [caregivers] who do belong to the union, by skimming 3% of their pay up to $948.00 a year from Medicaid…

I am urging you to stop this corruption by ending the ability of the State of Minnesota to deduct union dues for the SEIU from my daughters benefit.

Medicaid is being used to fund political agendas in Minnesota and hurt families like mine… That has to stop.

CMS will now consider the comments it received and decide whether to proceed to a final rule. Given SEIU’s shameful treatment of home care providers, CMS should implement the proposed rule and protect caregivers’ Medicaid checks as soon as possible.

For years, some blue states have been automatically deducting union dues from the checks of Medicaid home care providers. Many of these caregivers are relatives or friends of the person they care for and did not wish to join a union. The main beneficiary of this dues skim is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). […]

Union Oversight Improvements Needed

Oversight of our nation’s unions’ financial activities are conducted by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards. Americans for Limited Government Foundation recently released this report on improvements that should be made to ensure that appropriate oversight is restored after eight years of neglect.

Oversight of our nation’s unions’ financial activities are conducted by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards. Americans for Limited Government Foundation recently released this report on improvements that should be made to ensure that appropriate oversight is restored after eight years of neglect.

Storm Clouds Gather Over SEIU

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had a run of good luck during the Obama years, but the last couple of years have been rough for it. For those not familiar with the union, SEIU claims 2 million members and is composed of janitors, security guards, child care workers, health care workers, bus drivers, social workers, grad students, and adjunct professors, among others.

During the 2016 election, SEIU vainly spent millions of dollars trying to elect Hillary Clinton. Weeks after Clinton lost, SEIU Texas declared bankruptcy, and SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry announced the union must plan for a 30 percent cut in SEIU International’s budget by the start of this year.

SEIU Texas filed for bankruptcy because it had lost a lawsuit and been ordered to pay $7.8 million to Professional Janitorial Services. The union had been angry that the company’s president refused to waive a secret-ballot unionization election so it had unfairly and maliciously attacked the company causing it to lose clients. Last summer, SEIU International bailed out SEIU Texas and confidentially settled the case.

Elsewhere, due to allegations of sexual harassment, three SEIU employees have been fired, two resigned, and another was suspended over the past year. Of these six employees, two were SEIU executive vice presidents, another was the national organizing director for SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign, and two more were leaders of Fight for $15 campaigns in Chicago and Detroit.

In June, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Janus case. In its ruling, the Supreme Court found that it is a violation of government workers’ First Amendment rights to force them to pay fees to a union. The ruling also prohibits the deduction of union fees from the paychecks of government workers without their express consent. Unfortunately for SEIU, over half of its members work for the government so SEIU could lose a lot of members — and money — as a result of the decision.

In 2014, the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTWF) filed a class-action lawsuit against SEIU over the union’s burdensome requirements to opt-out of paying union fees. The suit was filed on behalf of tens of thousands of current and former California state employees. SEIU won the first round in federal district court. Undeterred by the loss, NRTWF filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the wake of the Janus decision, NRTWF submitted a new filing in the case. If the plaintiffs win, SEIU could have to return over $100 million in fees collected over the past several years from workers who had not consented to paying the fees.

Last month, SEIU agreed to settle a case with an Oregon state worker who had been forced to pay union fees even though she opposes the union’s policy views. As part of the agreement, SEIU was to return nearly $3,000 to her. This could be the first of many such cases.

Finally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks sent to home healthcare providers. Many of these providers care for relatives or friends and did not wish to join SEIU. If the proposed regulation takes effect, it could prove costly to the union: SEIU has been skimming dues off of Medicaid checks for years and collects an estimated $200 million a year through this scheme.

Although it is unknown what the precise impact of these setbacks will be, it seems clear that SEIU will suffer some membership and financial losses. But don’t feel too bad for SEIU. Many of its problems are of its own making. Had it not forced workers to pay union fees and then used these workers’ money to pursue a, partisan, left-wing agenda, it might have avoided many of these problems.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had a run of good luck during the Obama years, but the last couple of years have been rough for it. For those not familiar with the union, SEIU claims 2 million members and is composed of janitors, security guards, child care workers, health care workers, bus drivers, social […]

SEIU Settles Lawsuit with State Employee

SEIU recently agreed to settle a lawsuit filed against it by Debora Nearman, a non-member who was forced to pay union fees. As a pro-life Catholic, she opposed the union’s support for abortion. Ms. Nearman, an Oregon state employee, filed a lawsuit against the union after it spent over $50,000 attacking her husband Mike Nearman, a state representative.

SEIU accused Rep. Nearman of not supporting fair wages for disabled people even though both his wife and daughter are disabled. Nonetheless, Rep. Nearman was still reelected with a margin of more than 15 points.

Rather than take its chances in court, SEIU agreed to pay Ms. Nearman nearly $3,000. Furthermore, SEIU agreed that it will not seek or accept any dues or fee money deducted from Ms. Nearman’s paychecks without her consent.

“I am very pleased with the result of my case,” [Ms.] Nearman said. “This will help others gain the confidence to withdraw from unions they disagree with.”

Nearman’s attorney Jill Gibson said she hopes the settlement will set a standard for employees looking to recoup back wages.

“I am very pleased this is the first post-Janus return of compulsory dues,” she said. “I hope this sends the message that unions are supposed to benefit employees, not the other way around.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation also helped with the case. The foundation’s president stated the following after the settlement was reached.

“This is a great example for the countless public-sector workers across the country who seek to have their First Amendment rights respected in light of the Foundation’s Janus Supreme Court victory,” foundation president Mark Mix said in a statement.

This is apparently the first case of its kind to be settled after the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, which recognized the right of all public employees to choose not to pay union fees. After years of forcing people to pay union dues or fees, SEIU may soon have to pay a lot more money back.

 

 

SEIU recently agreed to settle a lawsuit filed against it by Debora Nearman, a non-member who was forced to pay union fees. As a pro-life Catholic, she opposed the union’s support for abortion. Ms. Nearman, an Oregon state employee, filed a lawsuit against the union after it spent over $50,000 attacking her husband Mike Nearman, a state representative. SEIU […]

Think SEIU Cares about the Disabled? Think Again.

Physically and mentally disabled workers have been cleaning the California Health Care Facility, a state hospital for prisoners, since 2016. They work for an award-winning nonprofit called PRIDE Industries, which employs thousands of disabled people across the country. PRIDE received a state contract after an audit of the hospital found problems with sanitation and cleanliness.

PRIDE’s janitorial workers have been doing a good job at the hospital — and they saved taxpayers’ money. In addition, they filled jobs that the state has typically struggled to fill and keep filled. Who could possibly have a problem with disabled workers doing a good job at a lower cost? SEIU, that’s who. And why? Because SEIU represents state janitors and wants more dues money. So what did SEIU do? They filed a grievance and threatened to sue the state over the contract.

So Democrat state legislators, who often act like SEIU sock puppets, decided to take away half of the contract positions and make them civil service jobs. Democrats rejected a Republican measure to allow PRIDE to retain all of the jobs. Although displaced employees can apply for the civil service jobs, they may not pass the civil service test or may not be hired. And it seems unlikely that the State of California will be as supportive of disabled workers as PRIDE has been.

Even without SEIU’s troublemaking, disabled people often have difficulty finding work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than one out of five disabled people were employed last year. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for the disabled was more than twice as high last year as it was for the non-disabled.

Making matters worse, this hospital is located in Stockton, California, which has struggled in recent years. The city declared bankruptcy just six years ago, and the local unemployment rate stood at 7% as recently as February of this year — much higher than the national average. According to the mayor, half of the jobs in Stockton pay minimum wage, and one-fourth of the population lives in poverty.

It would be one thing if SEIU were complaining about California outsourcing jobs to foreign countries or corrupt or inept companies, but that’s not the case. As it is, it’s absolutely disgraceful that SEIU puts its own financial interests over the interests of the disabled. What’s next for SEIU? Are they going to start harassing kids running lemonade stands for taking work away from restaurant workers? Just how low is too low for this union?

 

Physically and mentally disabled workers have been cleaning the California Health Care Facility, a state hospital for prisoners, since 2016. They work for an award-winning nonprofit called PRIDE Industries, which employs thousands of disabled people across the country. PRIDE received a state contract after an audit of the hospital found problems with sanitation and cleanliness. PRIDE’s […]

Trump Moves to Protect Home Care Workers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be permissible. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or stay in a union could still do so. They would just need to make arrangements to pay their dues, which could easily be done by authorizing the union to draft money from their bank account.

For years, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has skimmed money off of Medicaid checks sent to in-home personal care workers. Many of these people care for relatives or friends and did not want to join a union. In Minnesota, 27,000 caregivers were unionized after an election in which fewer than 6,000 voted and SEIU received less than 3,600 votes. Unsurprisingly, some had no idea when the unionization election was being held and were surprised when they noticed that money had been deducted from their Medicaid checks without their authorization. Of course, SEIU does little for these home health care providers: it does not negotiate their hours, breaks, or tasks, file grievances, etc.

To grow its membership, SEIU has been accused of very aggressive tactics from hassling caregivers and their patients to forging signatures on unionization cards. Home care workers who expressed no interest in supporting the union had organizers call repeatedly and show up at their homes to try to sell them on the union. Unfortunately, once SEIU succeeds in unionizing caregivers, it is very difficult to get rid of the union as some workers discovered. The difficulty of firing the union under the current system is one of the reasons why this proposed rule is so needed.

SEIU’s aggressive tactics and lobbying have paid off — for the union. According to one estimate, SEIU collects $200 million a year from 500,000 caregivers as a result of this scheme. To help put these figures in perspective, SEIU’s national headquarters reports that the union has over 1.9 million members and that the headquarters had revenues last year of nearly $315 million.

SEIU also has a history of fighting tooth-and-nail to keep collecting money from home care workers. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in the Harris v. Quinn case that home health care providers could not be forced to pay  agency fees to a union. SEIU has fought back aggressively by getting friendly state politicians to pass favorable laws. For example, some caregivers have been required to attend meetings with union representatives. In addition, when the Freedom Foundation launched a campaign to inform home care providers about their right to leave their union, SEIU lobbied for a change in the law to make it more difficult for the foundation to get the caregivers’ contact information. If SEIU were truly helping home care workers, then why has the union been so frantic to try to keep its members in the dark about their rights?

With so much money at stake, SEIU will no doubt do everything within its power to prevent this proposed rule from taking effect. If the rule does move forward, SEIU will work to generate thousands of comments opposing it. SEIU can also be expected to file a lawsuit to halt the rule and to work to elect more bought-and-paid-for politicians to rescind the rule should it take effect.

The Trump Administration’s proposed rule protecting Medicaid payments from unnecessary, and often unwanted, dues deductions is an important first step in the right direction. After all, taxpayers provide funds to pay caregivers to assist the elderly and disabled, not to fill the coffers of power-hungry unions. The sooner the rule is finalized and takes effect, the sooner these abuses of workers and taxpayers will end.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support […]

Janus Decision Is a Victory for Government Workers — and Likely Taxpayers

By Richard McCarty

By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in the Janus case that government workers cannot be forced to pay unions just to keep their jobs. This is a huge victory for public employees – and likely for taxpayers as well. Functionally, the Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees decision is like passing a Right to Work law for government workers. From now on, unions will need to continually demonstrate their value to workers and will likely need to scale back their political involvement, or at least adjust their politics to be less partisan.

In its ruling, the Court recognized the freedom of speech rights of government workers. All public employees will now have the right to opt-out of paying unions to lobby for things the employees oppose. Previously, all federal workers, as well as state and local government workers covered by Right to Work laws, had this right; now the rights of state and local government employees who were not already covered by Right to Work laws have been affirmed as well.

Quoting the majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, “Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.”

After years of being neglected, union members are starting to see changes and may soon see even more as a result of this case. One of the changes that workers have already seen is that unions have developed a new sense of urgency toward reaching out to their members. Based on the record of Right to Work states, other changes that could occur include lower union dues and less extravagant compensation for public union bosses.

While this ruling is clearly a win for government workers, here is why it is also likely to be a win for taxpayers. Government unions are some of the biggest funders of liberal politicians who support high taxes and bigger government. With their massive war chests, public employee unions have wielded an inordinate amount of power in setting public policy. For example, they have successfully lobbied for overly-generous pensions that have strained the budgets of states and localities from coast to coast. As these unions see their membership shrink and are forced to focus on serving their members, some of whom are moderate or conservative, they are likely to alter their political spending habits. Furthermore, a 2017 study found that funding and support for Democrat candidates declined after the passage of Right to Work laws, and the Janus decision could have a similar effect.

Now that the Court has curbed the power of government unions, there are several further steps that the federal government, as well as local and state governments, should take to help restore the proper balance of power between public sector unions and taxpayers.

  • Governments should launch information campaigns to ensure that all public employees know they have the right to opt out of paying union dues or fees.
  • Governments should switch from an opt-out system to an opt-in system for paying union dues – the same system employees use to authorize payroll deductions for the United Way or insurance.
  • Governments should stop allowing their employees to conduct union business on government time. After all, public employees are hired to serve the public, not private labor organizations.

The Supreme Court has delivered an important victory for government workers, and the repercussions are likely to be beneficial to taxpayers. As unions are forced to pay attention to the wishes of their members and are likely forced to tighten their belts due to declining membership, there should be fewer resources available to push Big Government agendas. The federal, state, and local governments should take further action to shift power away from public sector unions and back toward the taxpayers that they are supposed to serve by running informational campaigns to ensure public employees know they can opt out of unions; by changing from a system that requires workers to opt-out of paying unions to one that requires union members to opt-in to pay dues; and by prohibiting government workers from working on union business on government time.

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

By Richard McCarty By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in the Janus case that government workers cannot be forced to pay unions just to keep their jobs. This is a huge victory for public employees – and likely for taxpayers as well. Functionally, the Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal […]

On Janus, Some Cheer, Others Jeer at Supreme Court Decision

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court justices rules that public-sector workers could not be required to pay union “agency fees” as a condition of employment.

“The State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment,” the Court’s majority ruled. “Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns.”

Expectedly, labor unions and their allies on the Left are upset, calling the decision an “attack on working people.”

Mark Janus, the plaintiff in the case stated:

“I’m thrilled that the Supreme Court has restored not only my First Amendment rights, but the rights of millions of other government workers across the country. Across the country, so many of us have been forced to pay for political speech and policy positions with which we disagree, just so we can keep our jobs. This is a victory for all of us. The right to say ‘no’ to a union is just as important as the right to say ‘yes.’ Finally our rights have been restored.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus is a victory for the free speech of public employees everywhere, who will no longer be compelled to pay union dues should they choose not to,” stated Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government. “Although this decision affected state and local public employees, the Trump administration should immediately remind federal employees of their liberty to opt out of union membership, providing them with the paperwork so that they can exercise their constitutional rights.”

For the full story, click here.

 

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court justices rules that public-sector workers could not be required to pay union “agency fees” as a condition of employment. “The State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment,” the […]

Janus Decision Likely to Good for Government Workers

For over a decade, Mark Janus has had to pay fees to a union to keep his job as a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Believing that he should not be forced to pay these fees to a union whose views he opposes, Janus filed a lawsuit against the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31. In February, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, and the Court could issue its ruling any day now. The Janus decision is likely to upend the status quo in much of the country where public unions have been able to coast along forcing workers to pay agency fees without having to sell workers on the benefits of union membership.

What are agency fees? Agency fees are fees that non-union members are required to pay to unions to keep their jobs in some states. Agency fees are set by the union, and the cost of agency fees is typically between 80 percent and 90 percent of the cost of union dues. The purported reason for these agency fees is to prevent workers from benefitting from unions without contributing to them. Of course, unions are not obligated to represent all workers and could solely represent their members if they so choose.

The expected Janus decision would apply to state and local government workers in more than 20 states that currently allow unions to force nonmembers to pay agency fees. These states include some very liberal ones, such as California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Washington, as well as some more moderate or even right-leaning ones, such as Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has addressed the issue of agency fees. The expected ruling in the Janus case would overturn part of the precedent set by the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision in the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, which allowed unions to force nonmembers to pay agency fees. Just two years ago, the Supreme Court considered a similar case to Janus, the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case; but the Court deadlocked 4-4 after the death of Antonin Scalia.

If the court rules as expected, there will be a number of losers. AFSCME and other public employee unions, including the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Service Employees International Union, will lose both members and money. According to a study by the left-leaning Illinois Economic Policy Institute, the ruling could cost public sector unions 726,000 members. According to the California Labor Federation, the Janus decision could lead to membership decreases of 5 percent to 30 percent. Furthermore, Democrats, who receive so much support from these unions, are likely to see that support decline.

Bracing for a potential loss at the Supreme Court, unions have been making changes. They have cut budgets and stepped up efforts to engage with their members and fee payers. Unions have also lobbied for favorable legislation from friendly state governments. For example, union bosses managed to get legislation passed in California requiring new government employees to attend an orientation session with union officials.

The bottom line is that the Janus decision is expected to be good for state and local government workers: those public employees who do not currently have the right to opt out of paying agency fees to a union that they oppose will likely be given that right. As a result, some of these workers will stop paying these fees, and some current union members will quit their unions. With a decrease in funding, these unions are likely to spend less on politics. Finally, public employee unions will likely focus more attention on communicating with members and representing them after years of taking their members for granted.

For over a decade, Mark Janus has had to pay fees to a union to keep his job as a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Believing that he should not be forced to pay these fees to a union whose views he opposes, Janus filed a lawsuit against […]