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“I don’t want the union in my home:” Look who the SEIU is after now

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By Michelle Malkin  •  September 4, 2009 11:02 AM

There’s nowhere the SEIU Purple Shirts won’t go.

Their latest move? Trying to unionize in-home caregivers.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Kathy Keith has cared for a son with Down syndrome for 23 years and never dreamed that one day organized labor would consider her a prime candidate for a union card.

So she was skeptical when representatives from two of the nation’s largest unions began competing for her attention over the last few weeks with unannounced visits to her home, mailings and phone messages promising to fatten her state stipend.

The Bartlett resident is among about 3,000 people who receive state funding to assist someone at home with a developmental disability. As a result of an executive order signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in June that allows collective bargaining by “individual providers of home-based support services,” unions are now trying to sign them up in an unusual effort to boost membership.

The move has left some care providers angry and confused. Many are mothers, fathers or close relatives who are caring for loved ones, advocates say.

“Are you saying I can go on strike and not wipe my son’s rear end?” Keith said, questioning if union membership would pit her interests against her son’s.

Soon, she and others expect to receive ballots by mail that ask them to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) or the Service Employees International Union(SEIU). Or they may vote against representation.

An election date has not been scheduled, but union officials say they have met the requirement for a minimum level of interest and are awaiting state approval.

Caregivers who vote against joining a union or don’t vote at all would get to choose whether to become members if SEIU or AFSCME receives the most votes, but even if they decline to join, they will have to pay “fair share” dues, according to union representatives.

I’m very encouraged to see this pushback:

Pam Harris of Western Springs said she will vote against joining a union and is angry over what she calls “strong-arm tactics.” She worries about what will happen if she is forced to join a union as a caregiver for her son, Josh, 20, who has a rare genetic syndrome that causes cognitive and physical disabilities.

“I need that money for my son,” said Harris, who spends $1,400 a month on medical insurance for her son.

Organizers showed up at her doorstep on a recent Sunday morning, she said.

“I am not an employee of the state,” Harris said. “I work from my home. I don’t want the union in my home. I can Norma Rae with the rest of them.”

Illinois reader Adam, who cares for a son with autism, e-mails with the Chicago Way background: “A week or so ago Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the closure of Howe, a huge State Operated Development Center (SODC) in Tinley Park, IL. Dozens of disabled people have died over the past few years because of horrendous care, and it lost its Medicaid certification (and the associated Federal funds). It was a huge cash drain on the state, and the closure is one of the few smart decisions Gov. Quinn has made. The Arc of Illinois (and most other state Arcs) advocates for the closure of these huge impersonal institutions, and instead our desire is for people to move into smaller group homes (4-6 people each) in the community. The closure of Howe was strongly opposed by SEIU because they have organized a large portion of the workers at Howe and other SODCs in the state. To appease SEIU over the closure of Howe, Gov. Quinn signed an executive order that allows SEIU to approach and attempt to organize people who live in their own homes and take care of family members. If they vote no, but the union drive is successful, these family members will be forced to pay the union dues anyway, taking away from the funds they desperately need to help pay for their loved ones’ care. Though I’m not to this point yet with my son, the thought of SEIU thugs coming to my home unannounced in an effort to convince me to join the union is creepy and disgraceful.”

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