A provision in the ObamaCare law would help to unionize hundreds of thousands more home care workers throughout the country in coming years. But at this moment, the union bosses in at least one state—Michigan–are crying in their beer.
Michigan’s conservative administration is about to pull the plug on a union scam set up by the state’s union-loving former governor Jennifer Granholm. Some 40,000 child-care providers were sucked into the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Michigan by a clever scheme that could be employed in other states.
This is what Granholm did in Michigan: She ordered the state’s Department of Human Services to create a new public entity called the “Michigan Home Based Child Care Council.” The Council was given a vague mandate to improve home child care. Its real purpose was to be the bargaining body with a new union for these child-care providers.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees then enveloped the “Child Care Providers Together Michigan (CCPTM).” But on March 18, the Michigan Department of Human Services will stop withdrawing the union dues from subsidy checks to home-based day-care providers.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy sued the Michigan Department of Health on behalf of a couple of home-based health care providers. The suit was filed after discovery of the shell employer, the Michigan Home Health Care Council, set up to “shanghai private business owners in a public employee union,” the Center explained. The union was a subsidiary of the AFSCME.
At the time, union member Pam Stewart said dramatically–probably with a tear of joy in each eye: “It’s all about the children; the best possible care is to make sure providers have a [union-sponsored]voice, because we work out hearts out for these children every day.”
“Millions of dollars were misappropriated to help political allies of former Governor Granholm,” said Patrick Wright, director of Macinack Center’s Legal Foundation. It is likely another body, the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQCCC), also formed by Granholm, and also unionized, could be dumped, MIRSNews.com reported March 7.
Union bosses surely will do everything they can to preserve the ObamaCare provision, Title VIII. It created the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program, known as CLASS. It requires all 50 states, including right-to-work states, to establish entities to act as “fiscal agents” for employers of home health care workers. These could be the state bargaining bodies with unions. But it will be years before the unions can benefit from CLASS, as will be explained later.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has spent $93.5 million in a campaign promoting the CLASS provision of ObamaCare to employers across the country. CLASS requires participating employers to enroll all their employees in CLASS—unless the employee specifically pays close enough attention to opt-out of enrolling. It lacks the voluntary aspect of opting-in. So, millions of employees could be enrolled, if CLASS isn’t repealed.
CLASS creates a long-term-care insurance program. It allows employees who have become disabled or are aging, after paying monthly premiums for at least five years, to qualify for a cash benefit of $525-a-week they can use to pay health-care workers. That way, they can stay in their homes, rather than having to go into a nursing home. Premiums to pay for this home care would be deducted from their paychecks.
Employers are being encouraged to include this in their employee benefit plans. The money collected from employees would be sent to a federal trust fund, like those for Social Security and Medicare. It, too, would consist of Treasury bills—essentially IOUs. The money, as with Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund dollars, could be available to be spent for other purposes. HHS expects to bring into the CLASS Trust Fund about $70 billion. Yippee. More government spending money.
At the county or municipal level, throughout the U.S., unions could see the riches of possible union dues from the 1.7 million home care providers who could tap into a potential mother load of subsidized long-term-care payments to disabled or elderly. Some of this could be collected as union dues if more union locals for these workers are formed. According to the National Association of Home Health, the number working in home health care is expected to rise by 48 percent by 2018, a spokeswoman said.
But, as indicated earlier, no one will be eligible to get the subsidy money until employees have had the long-term care premiums collected for at least five years.
The AFSCME has more than 3, 400 local unions and affiliates in 46 states, the D.C., and Puerto Rico. United Nurses of America is an AFSCME affiliate made up of 45,000 registered and licensed practical nurses—just the kinds of workers who could benefit eventually from the CLASS Act. National Nurses United has 160,000 members and is looking to enlist another potential 1.7 million, according to a spokesman. These are solely RNs.
Washington Hospital Center (in Washington, D.C.) nurses jammed picket lines as nurses and nurses assistants in the National Nurses United went on strike March 3. A crowd of 2,000 heard AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praise the union members for “standing together like our brothers and sisters in Madison and Cleveland and Indianapolis and hundreds of other cities across America.”
As James Sherk, the Heritage Foundation’s labor guru, has said, “Unions are labor cartels….When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. And the Obama Administration is encouraging it.