Robert and Patricia Haynes take care of their two children, who at the ages of 30 and 34 are more like children in adult bodies. That's because they both have cerebral palsy, and rely on their parents to feed and change them -- and likely will for the rest of their lives.
The Haynes family receives monthly checks from the state of Michigan through Medicaid, allowing the parents to care for their son and daughter themselves instead of institutionalizing them. But because a Michigan law classifies Robert and Patricia as "home health care workers," they are considered public workers and therefore automatic union members -- meaning the SEIU gets a $30 cut of the family's Medicaid subsidy as union dues.
"We're not home health care providers -- we're parents taking care of our children," Melissa Haynes told Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK-TV:
But that's not how the state of Michigan sees it. According to Michigan Capitol Confidential, it's an example of "forced unionization" under a plan enacted five years ago.
The Washington Examiner reported:
Michigan Department of Community Health Director Olga Dazzo explained the process in to her members of her staff [sic]. "MQC3 basically runs the program for SEIU and passes the union dues from the state to the union," she wrote in an email obtained by the Mackinac Center. Initiated in 2006 under then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., the plan reportedly provides the SEIU with $6 million annually in union dues deducted from those Medicaid subsidies.
Robert, a retired police officer, told WJBK it's not a matter of being pro-union or anti-union.
"It wasn't a choice, we were just told this is what's going to happen," Patricia Haynes told the station.
They said even though they themselves are doing alright financially, they could certainly use the extra $30 a month to care for their kids -- as other families under similar circumstances no doubt could as well.
And despite allegedly belonging to the SEIU, Robert told Michigan Capitol Confidential his family is receiving no actual benefits from the union:
“Nothing,” Haynes said. “We're not getting anything from them. We've tried to contact them, and they don't even bother to respond. I don't even know what they could do to help. Considering the dues money we're sending them, maybe they should come over and babysit our kids so we could have one night out.
“We take care of our kids at home,” Haynes continued. “There aren't any working condition issues. There are no raises to negotiate. There aren't any union issues involved. But the money keeps being taken out of our checks anyway.”
According to the Examiner, Granholm's successor, Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich., has "already ended a similar scheme to provide unions with new 'public employees' in the area of child care." A state bill to end the practice for all public sector unions passed the House but has stalled in the Senate.