Five years ago, bosses of two AFL-CIO unions, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), teamed up to acquire forced-unionism control over home-based day-care providers in Michigan.
The UAW/AFSCME joint-venture union, known as “Child Care Providers Together Michigan” (CCPTM), was set up with the express aim of unionizing “all home-based child [day] care providers in Michigan.”
Then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Big Labor Democrat, was ready from the beginning to pull as many strings as necessary for the CCPTM union. In July 2006, Granholm-appointed bureaucrats helped establish a shell corporation known as the “Michigan Home Based Child Care Council” (MHBCC).
The sole genuine purpose of this venture was to act as the entity against which the CCPTM union was supposedly organizing.
Many of the 40,500 day-care providers targeted by CCPTM organizers report that they never even heard of this outfit until after it had prevailed in a low-turnout “mail ballot” election.
In 2008, forced union fees began being siphoned out of the reimbursement checks day-care providers receive from the government for serving needy families who are unable to pay their own way.
With Right to Work Attorneys’ Help, Michigan Home Day-Care Providers Fought Back
In Michigan as in other states, home day-care providers negotiate pay with parents and set their own hours and working conditions. Even assuming they had wanted to, CCPTM union bosses had no legal power to do anything that might even theoretically justify their forced-fee extractions.
Carrie Schlaud, a wife and mother of four who runs a “play based” pre-school out of her family’s home in North Branch, Mich., was one of many day-care providers who were outraged by the shakedown.
As Ms. Schlaud pointed out last year, clients and taxpayers as well as providers were victims of the collusion between UAW and AFSCME union bosses and Michigan politicians:
“I’m frustrated with the fact that I was forced to join the union — I feel that’s wrong. This is money that should be earmarked for low-income families but is now going to union officials as part of a political payback.”
With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, the National Right to Work Committee’s sister organization, Ms. Schlaud and four other providers filed a class-action suit against Gov. Granholm and her union collaborators a year and a half ago.
Ms. Schlaud and her coplaintiffs charged that the child-care forced-unionism scheme violated their federal constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances.
In the summer of 2010, the home child-care providers won two preliminary procedural victories in federal court.
Settlement Guarantees Providers Will Never Again Be Forced Into Union Ranks
Finally, last month, the administration of GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, who replaced Ms. Granholm in January, decided to abandon completely the pretense that the state of Michigan has the legal power to designate home-care providers as state employees and force them to pay union fees.
“It is good news that the state of Michigan, in order to reach a settlement with the Right to Work plaintiffs, has now guaranteed Michigan home-care providers will never be corralled into a union again,” commented Committee President Mark Mix.
“It’s also good news that, earlier this year, the Michigan Legislature heeded the pleas of pro-Right to Work citizens by defunding the MHBCCC, the bureaucracy Jennifer Granholm had set up for the purpose of extracting forced union fees from people like Carrie Schlaud.
“But unfortunately, for now at least, UAW and AFSCME union bosses are still holding on to roughly $4.5 million in forced fees that they were able to grab from providers while the MHBCCC was still in business.
“The state of Michigan has now dropped all efforts to defend the constitutionality of the scheme through which union kingpins were able to collect these forced fees. Right to Work supporters will not rest until they are required to give the money back.”
The plaintiffs and their Right to Work attorneys are continuing to pursue their class-action lawsuit against the CCPTM union hierarchy in order to reclaim all the forced fees collected from child-care providers.