Senate panel hears testimony on DHS withholding union dues from day care providers
LANSING — Members of the Senate Families and Human Services Committee heard testimony Tuesday on legislation that would stop the state from recognizing unions of nonpublic employees like home-based day care providers, said Sen. Mark C. Jansen, R-Gaines Township.
The Michigan Department of Human Services is claiming that home-based day care providers, who help low income parents who qualify for state assistance, are state employees and is withholding union dues from the state-subsidized checks they receive.
“These are small business owners – not government employees,” said Jansen, chair of the Senate Families and Human Services Committee. “As independent contractors, DHS should not be withholding union dues from their checks. This is unacceptable. The money is meant to help low-income families. ”
In December 2008, approximately 40,000 home day care owners in Michigan received notices in the mail that they were now members of the newly formed Child Care Providers Together Michigan union, a joint venture of the United Auto Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Subsequently, the department began withholding union dues from subsidy checks sent to the home-based day care providers.
Two lawsuits, one a federal class action, have been filed on behalf of home-based child care providers to challenge the department’s ability to withhold union dues from individuals who are not employed by the state.
Senate Bills 1173, 1178 and 1179 would prohibit the state from recognizing collective bargaining agreements or unions involving individuals who are not public employees.
Jansen’s measure, SB 1178, would prohibit DHS and the Michigan Department of Community Health from requiring labor union membership as an eligibility requirement for receiving state subsidies for care. Additionally, SB 1178 requires both DHS and DCH to inform anyone receiving subsidies for caregiving of their right to decline participation in a labor union.
SBs 1173 and 1179 would both clarify the definition of public employee.
The Senate panel expects to vote on the bills in the coming weeks.
Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Print friendly version Email this page