Friday, June 21, 2013

The Government Money Tree and Public Sector Unions

The public sector union leaders are always trying to find new ways to fleece the taxpayers, thereby increasing their revenue, aka dues, and perpetuating their leaders as a political force and strong allies of the Democratic Party. That helps Democrats win elections and grow government. In turn that means less MOM and more OPM spending.

That makes our economy and society weaker.

The public sector unions and Democratic Party represent a political and taxpayer ripoff alliance that is both troubling and even sickening, at least for me. But then, I'm just a non-dues paying taxpayer.

So when I came across the latest example of public sector union arrogance, I decided to share it with you. The government spends only the money it collects from We the People. And the more money the union collects from government workers in the form of dues, the less money those workers have and the less money We the People have as well.

But now the unions are playing the zero sum game of trying to extract more money from the elderly who are in need of government sponsored and subsidized home health care. That's because the more that goes into the pockets of the unions or the workers, the less is left for the other needs of the elderly. In my view, the unions have reached a new low here, but you can decide for yourself.

Unions Target Home Workers is subtitled 'Health Aides Seek Higher Wages, Benefits; Others Push Back on Organizing Move' has the story:

"As the population ages, more people are being paid by the government to care for the elderly in their homes. That has prompted unions to try to organize more such workers, who typically receive modest wages and few or no benefits.

But others question whether these workers even qualify to join a union, noting that many are caring for their relatives and could be considered self-employed. Battles have broken out in many legislatures over moves to allow, or bar, these workers from organizing.
After seven years as a home health aide in West Haven, Conn., Terrell Williams, 34, earns about $12 an hour, without health-care or retirement benefits. He attaches a lift used to help Michael Whalen, a paraplegic client with cerebral palsy, get in and out of bed.

The number of home health-care workers is expected to reach 3.2 million by 2020, up 68% from 1.9 million in 2010, according to the Labor Department.

Also known as personal-care aides, the workers typically bathe, dress and feed the elderly and people with disabilities, for a median wage of $9.70 an hour in 2010, the Labor Department says. Many have no health-care coverage themselves.

A large percentage of these workers are hired directly by people with disabilities or their families, rather than being employed by private agencies. Workers typically are paid with Medicaid or Medicare funds administered by states.

In many cases, home-care workers are relatives of the people they care for. A 2011 study commissioned by the state of Michigan found that 75% of home-care providers there went into the field to help a family member or friend.

Unions and many Democratic lawmakers say workers receiving public funds are state employees and can be unionized. Many Republican lawmakers and opponents of unionization argue that home-care workers are independent contractors, and therefore ineligible to join unions.

Last month, Democrats in Minnesota passed a bill over Republican objections giving 15,000 home health-care workers, as well as 7,000 home child-care providers, the ability to join unions. In Vermont, Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a measure last month permitting the state's 7,000 home health aides to unionize. In Connecticut, Democrats have passed measures enabling unions to represent the workers. . . .

"Home-care workers are the new face of labor," said Eileen Boris, a professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She compares organizing these workers to the unionization of factory workers in the 1930s and '40s. . . .

Amid declining union membership, home-care workers are an increasingly important source of union strength. SEIU represents about 600,000 home-care workers—a major chunk of its 1.9 million members—in about 20 states, including Democratic strongholds like California, New York and Massachusetts.

About 25% of home-care workers nationwide belong to unions, estimates Ms. Boris of the University of California. . . .

But success in winning higher pay and benefits has been mixed. In Michigan, SEIU organized 41,000 home-care workers in 2005. Today, many of them earn $8 an hour, slightly more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, according to the union's most recent contract. During eight years of union representation, the workers didn't gain health benefits, vacation time or sick leave.

Michigan workers paid dues representing 2.75% of their income, yielding $35 million for the union since 2005.

SEIU says it won a big pay increase for Michigan workers and helped set up a training program, and that it also helped workers by lobbying against budget cuts to home-care programs.

Last year, Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law barring home health aides from unionizing, saying that "private individuals cannot become public employees simply by receiving government dollars." The move erased about 45,000 members from SEIU's rolls and $6 million in annual dues.

Some home-care workers in Michigan are glad they are no longer part of SEIU.

Chet Junker, 78, of Evart, Mich., said he and his wife receive a bit more than $1,000 a month from the state to bathe, dress and feed their 46-year-old son, who was left severely disabled from seizures suffered as a boy. The state stopped deducting about $17 a month in union dues in April.

Mr. Junker, a retired insurance agent, said he never supported the union even though he believes it lobbied successfully for a pay increase for home-care workers. He said he opposed SEIU's political stands and wasn't informed that a union election was going to be held.

"I had no choice when they wrote to me and said you're going to be in the union," he said. "I'm happy I'm not in the union anymore.""

Summing Up

Government gets its money from taxpayers.

Many elderly need health care paid for by the government.

The unions get their money from dues.

The more dues the unions get, the less money union members receive.

In this case, that means less money to care for the elderly, too.

Government and public sector unions are fleecing the taxpayers and making our country more indebted and weaker.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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