Unions and PCAs: Frequently Asked Questions

Update: As of late December 2016, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) claims to represent some 19,000 Minnesota PCAs. How did this happen and what does it mean for you? Here are some frequently asked questions:

If I already signed a card, should I sign another one?

If you signed and submitted a card starting in August of 2018 through anytime this month of November, you are good to go. You probably got other MNPCA letters requesting that you sign a card; it is OK to disregard the other letters. If you are not sure, just send the card; we will handle duplicates on this end.

Should I sign a card even if I’m not a union member (or if I am not sure if I am a union member)?

Yes, all PCAs in the Choice Program are eligible to vote.  You can and should sign the card because the SEIU still represents you whether you are a union member or not.

  • That means SEIU speaks for you at the Capitol and DHS.
  • SEIU has your personal contact information.  
  • SEIU can influence issues such as certification, training, and home inspections.
  • You are bound by the contract, and future contracts, whether you like it or not.

Even if I don’t pay dues, am I still represented by the SEIU?

Yes, even if you are not paying dues, or did not sign a union card, the union is your exclusive representative under Minnesota state law. That means SEIU speaks for you at the Capitol. SEIU can influence issues such as certification, training and home inspections. And you are bound to the contract, and future contracts, whether you like it or not.

How did the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) come to represent PCAs?

Governor Dayton and his allies in the legislature declared PCAs ‘public employees’ in 2013 only for the purpose of ‘collective bargaining’ -in other words, so they can put you in a union. PCAs are not eligible for any of the benefits traditionally provided to public employees.

Did the SEIU win a representation election?

In 2014, under this new law, the SEIU won an election that allowed them to claim exclusive representation of all PCAs across the state. However, out of the reported 27,000 PCAs, only 3,543 PCAs voted in favor of unionization. That’s just 13%. Many PCAs were not aware of the vote or its ramifications and feel they were unwittingly trapped in a union they do not want. Some PCAs never got a ballot.

Has being in a union benefitted PCAs?

Through an agreement between the legislature and SEIU, there was a hike in the pay floor from $9 to $11 ($2.75 15-minute rate) over the first few years of the contract. But, most PCAs were already earning well above that—even family members limited to 80% of the hourly rate. In fact, the state legislature can raise PCA wages any time they want and has done so many times without the help of the union (see chart below).

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
% Change 2.26% 2.26% 2.00% 2.00% -2.58% 0.00% -1.50% 0.00% 1.50% 5.00% 2.53% 0.20%
15-min Rate $3.81 $3.90 $3.98 $4.06 $3.96 $3.96 $3.90 $3.90 $3.96 $4.16 $4.27 $4.28

Chart of Legislative Changes to PCA reimbursement changes from 2006 forward (Data from DHS)

But what about Paid Time Off (PTO)?

Under the SEIU contract, PCAs accrue one hour of paid time off for every 52 hours of work. For full-time PCAs, this amounts to five days a year. PCAs may only use their PTO after working 600 hours and receiving permission from their employer. Many PCAs are offended by the notion of ‘PTO’ from their family caregiving or believe it is meaningless. For PCAs working for non-family, PTO is a welcome break. But, just like wage increases, paid time off can be granted by the legislature without the SEIU.

How can I get rid of the SEIU for good?

The only way to get rid of the SEIU is through a new election. In order to trigger such an election, we must show that at least 30% of the bargaining unit no longer wishes to be represented by the union. If we accomplish that, then we get to vote. Problem: we do not know how many PCAs are in the bargaining unit.

Didn’t a “majority” of PCAs vote for the SEIU?

Only about 3,500 PCAs, out of what was said to be a total of 28,000, voted for the SEIU representation in 2014, approximately 13% of that 28,000 total.

Do more PCAs support removing (decertifying) the SEIU?

MNPCA has now collected more than 10,500 signed decertification election request cards from PCAs, three times the number who voted for the SEIU in the first place.

What does SEIU get from PCAs?

SEIU collects 3% of the PCA benefit from everyone they can convince or trick into signing a membership dues deduction authorization card, a total of $4-$5 million dollars a year, and SEIU just increased this amount, so the total maximum amount which is collected from PCAs, $948 per year, is apparently now even higher.

What does SEIU do with the money?

Twenty-Five SEIU officers are paid more than $70,000, almost three times what the average fulltime PCA earns, and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota’s President is paid $128,490, more than five times what the average fulltime PCA earns.  They also have a nice building and give lots of money to DFL politicians.

What does MNPCA charge PCAs?

MNPCA charges PCAs nothing in its efforts to remove the SEIU and restore their program.  MNPCA’s effort is supported by volunteers, discounts and donor contributions.

Why does MNPCA oppose SEIU?

SEIU Healthcare for PCAs is a fake union with no real ability to pursue genuine grievances, collective bargaining or other functions of real unions with an employer, because PCAs are employed by their own Medicaid-benefit participant/family member, and because the Medicaid payments are federal and state legislative appropriations, administered by DHS and PCA agencies, which are really unaffected by the SEIU.

What effect has SEIU had on the PCA Program?

SEIU has driven PCAs and Agencies out of the Choice PCA Program over the last several years, and created hassles and paperwork nightmares for those who remain in the program.

How does SEIU get PCA dues money?

SEIU takes Medicaid money from PCAs as dues, without authority in many cases, uses misrepresentation and forgery to get signature deduction forms signed, then won’t stop when PCAs ask them to stop deductions, and won’t even give PCAs or their Agencies copies of the forms, unless threatened.

Why does SEIU always attack the PCA Agencies?

SEIU needs a “villain” to justify itself, so it blames fiscal entities/PCA Agencies for anything PCAs don’t like in the PCA program, when SEIU itself is usually the reason for the problem.

What exactly is the SEIU afraid of in an election?

SEIU is resisting a PCA decertification election (the BMS first ordered an election when MNPCA filed its Petition, but the SEIU stopped them), because they know they will lose, just like the family child care providers defeated the AFSCME Union (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) last Spring by 1,014 (72%) to 392 (28%) votes.

What does SEIU add to the PCA Program?

Nothing.  The Legislature can and does fund the PCA Program, and did so long before the SEIU was involved, so the SEIU does nothing but claim victory for appropriations which would be made anyway by the Legislature.

How desperate is SEIU to stop the election?

First, they had Governor Dayton’s Administration refuse to give MNPCA the lists of PCAs in the so-called “bargaining unit,” until the Ramsey County District Court ordered them to do so.  Then the Administration buried MNPCA in seven out-of-date lists, only providing the list that actually counted three days before dismissing MNPCAs’ election request.  They claimed we didn’t have enough cards (even though, once we had lists, we got 10,500 signed election cards!).  After that, they got the Governor’s Office to implement a new SEIU/PCA “contract,” so they could try to prevent the election that way.

What does SEIU do with the millions of dollars it takes from the PCA benefit program every year in dues?

It pays SEIU Officers, pays for street demonstrations in Minneapolis and around the country, and funds its own politician friends (95% Democrats), here and around the country.  Zero dollars are paid to PCAs by the SEIU or to fund PCA benefits.  There are only minor SEIU costs in their charade of “bargaining,” and “grievances” are nonsense in the PCA field when the program is administered by the families themselves and the Agencies process the paperwork.  The SEIU simply pursues its own partisan agenda with these diverted PCA Medicaid dollars.

How did the SEIU get into the PCA Program to begin with?

The SEIU got Governor Dayton and the 2013 DFL Legislative majorities to pass a strictly partisan law, over Republican opposition, which created this unionization scheme for PCAs and child care providers.  It was and is a corrupt political deal in which the SEIU got “unionization” and millions of dollars in dues, and rebated much of it into support for the Governor and DFL Legislators.  Child care providers have voted “unionization” down and now it is the PCAs’ turn to kick out the SEIU.