Monday, September 13, 2010

MI Child Care Workers Sue to Break From Union

(AP) — Peggy Mashke tends to 12 children for 12 hours a day at her home, so she was surprised to get a letter welcoming her to the United Auto Workers union.
“I thought it was a joke,” said Mashke, 50, of northern Michigan’s Ogemaw County. “I work out of my home. I’m not an auto worker. How can I become a member of the UAW? I didn’t get it.”
Willing or not, Mashke and 40,000 other at-home providers are members of a labor partnership that represents people across Michigan who watch children from low-income families. Two unions receive 1.15 percent of the state subsidies granted to those providers, or more than $1 million a year.
Mashke has given up about $100 this year, and while she says it’s not a huge amount of money, she’s among a small group of home-based providers suing in federal court to break free from organized labor.
“It’s the principle. It’s my constitutional rights,” she said.
The plaintiffs claim they were driven into the union and forced to support it financially even though they work at home, are hired by families and are not state employees. In some cases, they are even related to the children in their care.
In 2006, the UAW and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, were formally approved as partners in a union called Child Care Providers Together Michigan. Only 15 percent of the providers cast ballots, but 92 percent were in favor.
The lawsuit, filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, claims that Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, and her administration cleared the way for the union in exchange for valuable political support from the UAW and AFSCME.
Michigan is one of at least 16 states where unions are mandatory representatives of personal-care workers, according to National Right to Work.
The state and the unions have defended the arrangement as the legal result of a process that was blessed by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. They say there is no role for a federal judge to second-guess what has occurred.
Union attorney John West acknowledged it’s a “novel approach” to bring home-based workers under the labor umbrella.
“This is really a pretty important issue,” West said at a July 13 court hearing. “We have a problem that’s been festering for a long time in a lot of states where you have a large group of generally poorly paid, often not-very-well-trained employees.
“To try and resolve this issue and improve the situation, unions in a number of states have put a lot of effort into trying to organize these people, successfully in many instances,” he said.
On its website, The UAW says the partnership “gives a much-needed voice and power” to child care providers who have problems dealing with the state’s bureaucracy.
“They might not get their check from the state. You wouldn’t believe how much that happens,” a UAW vice president, Cindy Estrada, told The Associated Press. “Or they don’t know they can get an increase in their subsidy if they get more training. … You wouldn’t believe how much an extra 10 dollars a day can help.”
And there are providers who say the union has been helpful. Elizabeth Hall, 61, who looks after three children at her home in suburban Detroit, said she was having trouble getting paid by the state but the UAW “cut a lot of corners and got right to the source. I was very elated.”
“The UAW is very resourceful,” Hall said. “If there‘s anything you’re not aware of, they bring the information to us.”
Robert Jonker, a federal judge in Grand Rapids, Mich., has ruled that the seven-month-old lawsuit can proceed, at least in the early stages. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Midland-based think tank that promotes free market capitalism, is suing in state court to stop the union on other grounds.
Mackinac Center lawyer Patrick Wright called it an “underhanded scheme.”
“It’s an interesting issue,” said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
“The idea is for unions like the UAW and AFSCME to have a fertile and expanding area to organize to offset the membership losses because of plant closings — in the case of the UAW — or state and city downsizing in the case of AFSCME,” he said.


  1. Soon the unions will become extinct and they have no one to blame but themselves and their greed. I've seen what the unions have done to good teachers and our school system in Michigan. Our kids are paying for it with a poor education. And the consumers are paying for the UAW greed and then they blame the consumers for not paying for it and buying a Honda.

  2. And soon the middle class will cease to exist and only the rich will have any money. We'll be a third world country and you'll learn why your distrust of unions was wrong.

    By then it will be too late.

  3. As for the article i am not sure i get how this happened but i am thinking its wrong.

  4. Joe Wheather Union Or Politicans We Are A Third World Nation Now. Hell We Went To The Human Rights Commision With Arizons Law To Fit In With The Rest United Nations!

    Unions In Some Ways Have Replaced Work Ethics And That Has Helped Who? The Evil Rich The Depressed Poor. Class War Fare At Its Best. We The People Will Be The Reason For Our Standard Of Living Going Down. We Elect The Dumbos Steering OUR Ship And Right Now Were All On The Titanic. The Deficit Life Vest Is NOT Working And That Will Be OUR Ice Berg!

    Next We All Start Loving Bananas Cooked Many Different Ways!

    Heck Grandparents Now Watching Children And Being Paid Do They Have To Join A Union Or Is This For Citizens Licenced Through State Who Evidently Have NO Say In Joining Union Or Not. Hell Get To Pay State For License Get To Pay Union For What?

  5. JoeC said...
    "And soon the middle class will cease to exist and only the rich will have any money. We'll be a third world country and you'll learn why your distrust of unions was wrong.

    By then it will be too late." Are you doing your fear mongering again Joe? It's the middle class that is supporting the unions. Why do the unions act like they are supporting us Joe? No one believe that stupid fear tactic any more. The unions took grandma and grandpa's stock in GM and gave it too the unions even though it was illegal to do so. How is that for screwing the middle class? Are the unions helping the middle class by making us pay higher taxes so they can make tons more money then we do? Is the union making the middle class when we have to pay over $2,000 per car for their medical alone? Is it far that the unions don't have to pay the "Cadillac" tax for the obamacare they wanted while non-union "Cadillac" plans have too pay?


Please keep it clean and nice. Thank you for taking the time to post you thought. It means a lot to me that you do this.