January 14, 2017

Minnesota Care Workers Take on their Union


In Minnesota, home healthcare providers (commonly called personal care assistants or PCAs) are individuals who take care of disabled people within their homes. PCAs are often family members and receive a small Medicaid subsidy for the care. The disabled person is a PCA’s sole employer.

In 2013, the Minnesota state legislature passed the Individual Providers of Direct Support Services Representation Act, which reclassified PCAs as branch state employees. The Act did not provide PCAs with benefits, nor did it change the employer status of a disabled person. The legislature passed the Act to enable PCAs to have possible representation by unions for collective bargaining. Afterwards, the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services held a “surprise” certification election to determine union representation. The measure passed with a dismal turnout of 21.7%. Despite the small approval vote, all Minnesota PCAs are now required to pay 3% of their Medicaid subsidies to the union.

Since then, PCAs have been fighting against the union, taking the case to the Supreme Court, which was deadlocked after Justice Scalia’s death, and now by trying to have the union decertified. Read more about it here.