Ending the union’s skim of home health care wages

By ERIN SHANNON  | 
POLICY BRIEF
|
Oct 25, 2017

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Key Findings

  1. In 1999, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) began a state-by-state political effort to change the classification of in home health care and day care providers from private-sector workers to public-sector. Reclassification as a public-sector employee meant the state would technically be considered their employer, and unions could require that those workers join the union and pay dues or agency fees. 
     
  2. Under the cover of collecting union “dues” or “agency fees,” SEIU has arranged for some states, like Washington, to automatically take a portion of the more than $41 billion the government sends every year to individual Medicaid recipients and the $11.4 billion of taxpayer dollars spent on the Child Care and Development Fund and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs.
     
  3. These arrangements result in the misuse by SEIU of hundreds of millions of dollars annually in public money that is meant to provide assistance to elderly, ill or disabled individuals and low-income families.  This happens in 11 states, including Washington.
     
  4. Washington automatically extracts 3.2 percent of the earnings of home health care providers and two percent from home day care providers and sends it to SEIU. 
     
  5. The SEIU dues skim of Medicaid benefits from Washington state’s home health care providers alone amounts to a staggering $27 million for SEIU 775 each year. The dues taken from the state’s day care providers generated several more million each year for SEIU 925.
     
  6. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that designating providers as public employees only for the purposes of unionization makes them “partial public employees” who cannot be forced to participate in a union or pay union dues or agency fees.  
     
  7. SEIU strongly opposed the Court’s ruling, and has aggressively worked to prevent workers from exercising their right not to pay union dues or fees. SEIU “dues skims” are still active in 11 states, including Washington.  
     
  8. Given the union’s determination to figure out ways around the Harris v. Quinn decision, the time is right for the Trump Administration to issue definitive rules that protect the rights of workers and end the SEIU dues skim.

Introduction

Each year executives at the country’s largest government employees union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), exploit loopholes in the law to fill their coffers with millions of dollars in taxpayer money.  

Under the cover of collecting union “dues” or “agency fees,” SEIU has arranged for some states, like Washington, to automatically take a portion of the more than $41 billion the government sends every year to individual Medicaid recipients.  The Medicaid money sent to low-income elderly, disabled or ill individuals is meant to enable them to pay for in-home care.  Medicaid payments are sent directly to the individual in-home health care providers on behalf of their Medicaid-eligible “client,” but in some states a portion of these payments are diverted to SEIU before the caregiver receives any money.  

Many of the home health care providers who are forced to pay SEIU “dues” or “fees” are taking care of a family member or a close friend in their home.  Often these caregivers have no idea they have been made SEIU members or are paying nearly $1,000 per year to the union, because their state automatically deducts that money and sends it to the union before the provider ever receives payment.  They receive a modest Medicaid-funded stipend each month to help cover the costs of the in-home care they provide for their friend or loved one.  

SEIU employs a similar scheme to siphon off a portion of the $11.4 billion of taxpayer dollars spent on the Child Care and Development Fund and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs.  These programs provide federal block grant money to states to help low-income families afford day care.  Individual home-based child care providers whose clients are eligible for these programs receive payment through the government grants, and as with Medicaid, a portion of their payment is first automatically taken by SEIU.

These arrangements result in the misuse by SEIU of hundreds of millions of dollars annually in public money that is meant to provide assistance to elderly, ill or disabled individuals and low-income families.  This happens in several states, including Washington.

Download file Download the full Policy Brief.