Labor Unions

More SEIU schemes to bilk the taxpayer

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The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the nation’s largest unions, has been filling its coffers with Medicaid dollars for years. With the help of Democrat politicians, SEIU has been raking in tens of millions of dollars each year by skimming dues off the top of Medicaid checks sent to personal care assistants, who care for Medicaid recipients in their homes. Congress should act swiftly to end this diversion of taxpayer funds.

Image Credit: Eric Rogerson

Typically, unions are paid to negotiate and enforce contracts between employees and management. But with personal care assistants, having a union makes little sense. Personal care assistants are “employed” by the person they care for – often their own child, or another relative, or a friend. Personal care assistants do not work for the state or the federal government. And it’s not like SEIU sits down with each Medicaid patient and bargains with them over smoking breaks, time off, and benefits on behalf of each personal care assistant. Nor does SEIU make house calls to ensure that the Medicaid beneficiary is following the contract. With SEIU doing so little for these caregivers, why should they have to pay hundreds of dollars a year in dues to the union?

Because the union has so little work to do for personal care assistants, it has more time to pursue its out-of-touch, leftist agenda. Among other things, the union supports illegal immigration and more foreign aid to fight climate change, but it has opposed well-paying construction jobs and energy jobs. Appallingly, SEIU advocated for the US government to release a Cuban spy and an unrepentant terrorist. In spite of the controversy surrounding the nation’s largest abortion provider – Planned Parenthood – SEIU has continued to stand with the organization and has given it tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

The president of SEIU, Mary Kay Henry, has long been aware that the union is politically out of step with many of its members noting that 20% of the union’s members are independents and about 30% of members vote Republican. Yet, according to the Center for Union Facts, 90% of SEIU’s political expenditures at the federal level go to Democrats.

Setting politics aside, SEIU has a long record of sleazy and scandalous behavior. For example, SEIU has a policy of refusing to recognize dues opt-out forms outside of arbitrary windows of time that allows it to continue collecting dues even after a member resigns, as an Oregon woman learned.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over the years, there have been thousands of charges filed against SEIU with the National Labor Relations Board – including over 4,200 charges of coercive actions, over 2,300 charges of coercive statements, and over 750 charges of coercion.

The media has also reported on a number of shocking allegations against the SEIU. In 2012, SEIU was accused of trying to sabotage a nursing home by mixing up the name plates of Alzheimers patients and removing stickers that indicated dietary restrictions. In 2014, SEIU stole the personal information of county government workers in California in an effort to poach union members from a rival union. In 2015, SEIU members abandoned mental patients to strike for higher wages. Last year, the Washington Examiner reported on two Minnesota women who alleged that someone forged their signature on forms authorizing SEIU dues deductions from Medicaid checks. Earlier this year, SEIU finally settled with a Texas janitorial company that the union had unfairly and maliciously attacked. The company had won a multimillion-dollar judgment against SEIU.

This rogue organization does not deserve one dime from taxpayers. Fortunately, Congress can stop this insanity by attaching a rider to the next budget prohibiting the deduction of union dues from Medicaid checks. If SEIU members find the union is valuable to them, then they can voluntarily pay dues to the union. But no one – especially the kind souls tending to the sick or elderly – should be compelled to pay dues to a union that they oppose. Given all of the dirty, despicable things that SEIU has been doing in recent years, cutting off a source of its funding should be a particularly easy decision for Congress to make.

This is a guest post by Richard McCarty Director of Researcher for Americans for Limited Government Foundation

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