May 20, 2010
Republicans circumvent legal election to kill union and hurt kids
LANSING – Republicans cannot stop workers from organizing and improving their lot through the legal way with an election, so they went around the election Wednesday with approval of Senate Bill 1158 that provides the budget for the Department of Human Services
The Senate budget calls for de-funding the Home-Based Child Care Council and stop the collection of union dues. You will recall that last year child care workers organized the Child Care Providers Together Michigan (CCPTM) union, a joint venture between United Auto Workers (UAW) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) certified CCPTM as the sole bargaining unit for all home-based child care providers receiving reimbursement payments from the Michigan Child Development and Care Program.
The Michigan Quality Community Care Council is a standalone public body created by inter-local agreement under the Urban Cooperation Act of 1967 charged with the mission of improving professional development opportunities for home based child care providers, but Republicans like the rightwing think tank Mackinac Center falsely claims it will strengthen the union.
Sen. Gilda Jacobs, D-Huntington Woods, offered one of the best defenses of the union on the Senate floor I have heard since this GOP attack began.
“I stand here today to be somewhat of a truth squad because I think it is important that what has been described as questionable and forced unionization of home-based child care workers is not that at all,” she said. “The fact of the matter is that the union was ratified through an election process that was entirely proper and legal. Ninety-eight percent of the workers who voted in the election voted in favor of unionization. At no point was the validity of that election challenged through the normal procedures provided by our labor laws.”
This is just one more GOP attempt to kill unions and make Michigan a so-called “Right to work state” when the fact is anyone can opt out of the union.
“In any event, no one is forcing workers who do not want to be part of the union to join,” Jacobs said. “Both Michigan and federal law prohibit compulsory union membership. Any employee who wishes can refrain from joining the union by paying a small representation fee.”
Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, a retired Ford autoworker, also defended unions, saying unions are middle-income people and consumers, and when we lose union members the consumers in this country continue to decline.
“So unions have actually been very, very good for Michigan,” he said. “When we had more union people, we were actually above the national average when it came to income, consumers, and people with a good quality of life. I would take umbrage with the Senator from the 29th District when he starts to bash unions.”
The budget narrowly passed with a 20-18 with some Republicans – who usually vote in lockstep - crossing over to vote with the Democrats. The Governor had recommended 527 new child protective services workers to comply with the children's rights lawsuit settlement and the increased caseload, but the Senate approved just 151 new workers. The bill now goes to the House Appropriations Committee.