By Kim Crockett, VP and Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment
To view the original post, please click here.
MNPCA is a coalition of home-based personal care attendants (PCAs) who care for persons with disabilities in their homes under a Medicaid program. In most cases, the PCA is a woman caring for a family member though we estimate that about 20 percent are not relatives.
These PCAs were unionized as “state employees” in 2014. If that seems odd to you, you are not alone (and can read more on how this happened at MNPCA.org FAQ).
Shortly after being unionized, the State and SEIU signed a “collective bargaining agreement” even though all the benefits under the contract must be funded by Congress and the legislature under Medicaid. This first contract, which expires June 30, 2017, is a sham contract, designed to hide a dues-skimming scheme by SEIU and the Dayton administration.
We estimate that the SEIU is taking in at least $4.7 million from the PCA program in union dues.
After MNPCA launched a state-wide effort to force a new election, SEIU and the State of Minnesota announced that they would begin negotiations for a new contract. This is well in advance of the normal time frame for state employee contracts.
Why would the Dayton administration do that?
If the State gets a new contract before MNPCA completes its call for a new election, MNPCA would have to start all over again in two years, and presumably the State could do the same thing again, thereby blocking PCAs who want to decertify this union.
SEIU held a press conference on September 28th, using a memo from DHS outlining improvements for the PCA program as a template for the changes it wanted, including an increase in pay. We thought it was odd that the union was so closely aligned with DHS that it used a DHS memo to lay out what it wanted in a new contract.
On two occasions over the last several weeks, representatives of several state agencies (MMB and DHS) met with the SEIU and a handful of PCAs at SEIU’s office in St. Paul to negotiate this new “contract.”
We thought it was really odd for a state contract to be negotiated at the union office. Why doesn’t the union come to the State?
Things get even stranger, yet.
A joint committee of the House and Senate that considers state employee contracts had asked for and received a promise from the Dayton administration that it would notify the committee of any PCA-related contract negotiations, yet it failed to give that notice until the co-chair, Rep. Steve Drazkowski, complained of the lack of notice.
Just as the Dayton administration has failed to keep an up to date list of PCAs in the bargaining unit, as required by the law Dayton himself lobbied for in 2013. We discovered that failure in Ramsey County court last week when the State admitted it did not have a list of PCA “state employees” and then argued that even if it did have a list, the PCAs who wanted to decertify this union were not entitled to it. Fortunately, Judge Awsumb disagreed and ordered the State to hand over the list in seven days.
MNPCA also asked the judge to stop these contract negotiations but he denied that motion.
Apparently, only the SEIU has the list of PCA “state employees.” Once the union dues started flowing, the SEIU and Governor Dayton had what they wanted.
What else is SEIU demanding under a new contract?
- A 30-minute mandatory meeting with new PCAs “to discuss union membership” as part of a 90-minute orientation
- PCAs primary telephone number (mobile or landline)
- PCA’s email address
- The amount and type of any other fringe benefits like health insurance PCAs get from their fiscal agent
- PCAs household income
- SEIU also wants to treat fiscal agents (agencies) like a traditional employer for matters such as grievances even though they are not the employer
We ask you, what do these demands have to do with improving the PCA program for people with disabilities and their caregivers?
These demands are clearly designed to benefit the Union’s agenda which is to get more PCAs to pay SEIU’s outrageously high dues (3 percent of gross wages up to $948 a year).
How can SEIU justify taking $948 a year from people making $12-$14 an hour? We thought they were supposed to be improving PCAs lives. What possible value could PCAs get from SEIU for $948 a year?
Bottom line? If Governor Dayton cuts a new deal with the SEIU, whatever the details, he will knock out all of MNPCA’s hard work this year. That is because the new contract will act as a “bar” and reset the timeframe for forcing a new election. MNPCA would have to start all over again.
Let’s not let them win.
Please, if you are a PCA, do not delay. Please sign your Election Authorization Card today!