Minnesota PCAs Gain Support
By Olivia Grady
On April 19, 2017, National Review published an article, “Health-Care Workers Aim to Decertify a Union Suspected of Fraud” by Akash Chougule, director of policy at Americans for Prosperity, and Jason Flohrs, Minnesota state director at Americans for Prosperity. The article detailed the Minnesota decertification project that the Center for Worker Freedom has been helping with.
It explains that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has unionized Minnesota personal care assistants (PCAs), usually family members who take care of loved ones with a disability. PCAs receive a small Medicaid payment in exchange.
The purpose of this unionization was for the SEIU to keep up their membership numbers because PCAs are not the type of worker that the SEIU usually represents. The SEIU receives about $5 million each year from Minnesota alone.
The article next describes how the PCAs were unionized. Governor Mark Dayton (D) signed into law a bill declaring these PCAs to be government employees, but only for collective bargaining purposes. The SEIU then held an election, where less than 4,000 out of 27,000 PCAs voted for the union. Because that was a majority of those who voted, the SEIU declared victory.
Chougule and Flohrs then mention that caretakers have said that the union forged their signatures and didn’t send them ballots to vote in the election. Both actions are illegal.
In addition, the SEIU also deducted dues (3 percent of the Medicaid money) from PCAs who never gave them permission to do this. The Supreme Court case, Harris v. Quinn, forbids unions from collecting dues from non-members.
One example of a PCA who had union dues deducted from her payment without her permission is Patricia Johansen:
Patricia Johansen, a personal-care attendant in Otter Tail County, Minn., told Matt Patterson of the Center for Worker Freedom that she never voted for the union or agreed to join and have dues deducted. In the fall of 2015, however, she noticed that the SEIU had been skimming dues from her Medicaid funds. When she complained, the SEIU said it had her signed dues-deduction authorization card on file.
Patricia was able to get the union to send her the card that she had purportedly signed allowing dues deduction. The card had her forged signature. Thankfully, she was able to get the money that had been deducted back, but the article mentions that not everyone was able to do that.
The article then explains that the PCAs are fighting back and are collecting cards for another election to decertify the SEIU or remove the SEIU as their representative. They have collected more than 6,500 signatures so far, but the Dayton Administration hasn’t scheduled an election.
Chougule and Flohrs also point out that this fraud is making Medicaid even more expensive in a state where one-third of the budget funds Medicaid. Medicaid costs over $530 billion each year nationally, and its cost has created the national debt in part.
The article concludes by urging representatives to stop this fraud. The writers applaud Minnesota state representative Marion O’Neill for her actions:
State representative Marion O’Neill, chair of the Subcommittee on Employee Relations, has called for an investigation into fraud in the unionization effort. She is scheduling “full, robust hearings” on how the election took place and why dues were deducted without permission. She hopes to exposing and end any wrongdoing.
They also urge Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to issue a regulation saying that Medicaid money cannot be used for union dues.
If the union is decertified, this would be the largest union decertification in American history.