SEIU Healthcare Michigan has a problem: Its membership tanked from 55,265 members in 2012 to 10,918 in 2013—a decline of 44,347 members. The cause? Pro-employee legislation passed in 2012 that gave employees the option of refraining from paying the SEIU dues without losing their jobs, and a separate measure that abolished Healthcare Michigan’s “dues skim” racket.
The “dues skim” was a sneaky policy that dictated in-home family caregivers were actually “state employees” subject to unionization and forced dues. SEIU pushed the arrangement with the aid of then-Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2006, and experts estimate SEIU skimmed over $30 million before the scheme was repealed in 2012. A ballot measure to reinstate it flopped, and the SEIU was hit with a $199,000 campaign finance fine for shenanigans allegedly related to obscuring its interest in the failed proposal.
As a result of this measure and pro-employee legislation that made Michigan the 24th Right-to-Work state, employees and home health care providers who want nothing to do with SEIU now have an easy out: Leave the union.
New federal legislation offers the federal government the opportunity to extend pro-employee protections to workers nationwide. The Employee Rights Act would require periodic recertification elections to ensure employees have a fair, federally supervised method to hold their unions accountable. Michigan empowered employees: Congress should too.