Home health care workers in the state of Washington will soon see a boost to their paychecks as the local Service Employees International Union 775 (SEIU-775), has agreed to stop skimming for dues without proper authorization from workers. Known as “agency fees,” the union and the state were taking payments out of Medicaid on behalf of their clients without first receiving express consent – a practice the Supreme Court outlawed in 2014.
The Freedom Foundation, a non-profit think and action tank, is responsible for bringing this dubious habit by unions to a close. The organization filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Washington State and SEIU-775 in July. The suit apparently spooked the state and the union into behaving themselves.
The Freedom Foundation has been fighting an uphill battle since 1991 with a vision “of a day when opportunity, responsible self-governance, and free markets flourish in America.” And this case demonstrates that hard work pays off, as Washington State has now been forced to follow the majority of states that ceased the practice after a 2014 landslide Supreme Court decision on Harris v Quinn, which ruled that deducting dues in this way was unconstitutional.
Heck, some may even call it stealing. Because it is.
Freedom Foundation director of labor policy Maxford Nelsen released a statement to The Daily Caller, calling unions such as SEIU-775 who use this system as “brazen” in taking workers’ money. He went further to explain:
“In this case, it took two U.S. Supreme Court decisions and a federal class-action lawsuit just to get SEIU 775 to stop seizing 3.2 percent of caregivers’ wages without their permission. And the complicity of the state in this scheme is frankly disgusting.”
The Scope and Scoop
Since 2000, the Freedom Foundation has compiled information on unions’ skimming Medicaid dues and the results are appalling. Recently released documents show the scope and history of the unionization of home health care workers across the nation and the staggering diversion of hundreds of millions of Medicaid dollars to states and unions:
“In 2017, at least eight states – including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Washington – skimmed nearly $150 million in union dues out of state payments to more than 350,000 home caregivers serving Medicaid-eligible disabled and elderly clients.
All told, states have deducted more than $1.4 billion in union dues and fees from caregivers’ wages from 2000-17.”
Of course, the Obama administration contributed to this debacle in 2014, when it adopted a rule allowing states to make deductions from caregivers’ pay for “benefits customary to employees.” It was another one of his “I have a pen and a phone” situations as there was no statutory authority to enact such a rule – a rule the Trump administration is summarily reversing.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a statement in July to explain the reversal:
“After further review, CMS has determined that the new exception created by the 2014 rule is not consistent with the statute, may have resulted in provider payments being diverted in ways that do not comport with the law, and, in some cases, may have occurred without the express knowledge of the provider.”
“That do not comport with the law.” Can you imagine?
Rather than backing Obama’s rule, the Supreme Court doubled down on their own 2014 ruling earlier in 2018, with another whammy to unions with their definitive Janus v. AFSCME decision “that requiring any public sector worker to pay union dues or fees as a prerequisite for holding a job is unconstitutional.” For those not familiar with AFSME, they are the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a juggernaut of unions.
As the Freedom Foundation stated, “This illegal and exploitative practice has victimized hundreds of thousands of caregivers. It has only been allowed to persist because it generated significant funds for a politically-connected special interest group.”
Check mark another win for all Americans.