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Special report: A parental revolt against the SEIU’s home invasion robbery

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 5, 2009 11:07 AM


The SEIU Purple Army: Coming to a home near you?

Last month, I noted the appalling story about the SEIU’s power grab in Illinois to unionize home health care workers.

But you haven’t heard the half of it. It’s an ongoing nightmare you should know about — because it may be coming to your own front door if Big Labor gets its way.

Roughly 3,500 people in Illinois receive state funding to assist someone, usually a family member, at home with a developmental disability. In June, Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn signed an executive order approving collective bargaining by “individual providers of home-based support services” — effectively busting open the doors of private homes for the Purple Shirts of the SEIU and other union competitors hungry for new dues-paying members.

The home-based workers weren’t seeking a collective bargaining agent.

But unions were targeting them.

Note: Quinn received the enthused gubernatorial endorsement of the SEIU last month. Quoth Quinn: “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell to organize!” Watch:

Over the last month, home-based providers started have been receiving unexpected visits from out-of-state union lackeys trying to recruit them with the promise of health care benefits and more money. Last week, providers began receiving ballots to elect the SEIU or the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to represent them. Yes, Illinois provided both the SEIU and AFSCME with the names and home addresses of all 3,500 in-home care providers for the purposes of increasing their membership rolls and political clout.

Home-based providers have the right to vote for no union representation at all. But the unions and their water-carriers in political office have done their best to obscure that fact.

First, here’s the text of Quinn’s Big Labor home invasion executive order:

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING BY INDIVIDUAL PROVIDERS
OF HOME-BASED SUPPORT SERVICES

WHEREAS, individual providers of home-based support services (“individual providers”) provide services to persons with disabilities (“consumers”) in their own homes as part of the Home-Based Support Services Program under 405 ILCS 80/2-1 et seq., and 59 Ill.Admin.Code part 117; and

WHEREAS, individual providers are employees of the consumers whom they serve or the consumer’s parents or guardian, but are not employees of the State or any other person or entity; and

WHEREAS, it is important to preserve the relationship between consumers’ control over the hiring, in-home supervision, and termination of individual providers and, simultaneously, preserve the State’s ability to ensure efficient and effective delivery of services and control the economic terms of compensation provided under the Home-Based Support Services Program; and

WHEREAS, each consumer employs only one or two individual providers and does not control the economic terms of their employment under the Home-Based Support Services Program and therefore cannot effectively address concerns commons to all individual providers; and

WHEREAS, the individual providers work in the homes of consumers throughout Illinois and therefore cannot effectively voice their concerns about the organization of the Home-Based Support Services Program, their role in the Program, or the terms and conditions of their provision of services under the Program without representation; and

WHEREAS, it is essential for the State to receive feedback from the individual providers in order to effectively and efficiently deliver home-based support services; and

WHEREAS, individual providers are not State employees, and are not eligible to receive statutory benefits, including but not limited to those provided under Illinois Pension Code, State Employee Group Insurance Act and Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, as the State does not hire, supervise, or terminate individual providers; and

WHEREAS, the State has productively dealt for many years with a representative of personal assistants in the Home Services Program, who are similarly situated as individual providers as they provide services to vulnerable persons in their homes, are employees of those consumers, but the State controls the economic terms of their provision of services.

THEREFORE, I hereby order the following:

1. The State shall recognize a representative designated by a majority of the individual providers in the Home-Based Support Services Program as the exclusive representative of all such individual providers; accord said representative all the rights and duties granted to such representatives by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, 5 ILCS 315/1 et seq.; and engage in collective bargaining with said representative concerning all terms and conditions of the provision of services under the Home-Based Support Services Program that are within the State’s control, including the setting of minimum rates of payment to individual providers.

2. A representative may be designated either by submission of authorization cards from a majority of individual providers or by a majority of individual providers voting in a mail ballot election. Any organization that can show that at least 30% of individual providers wish to be represented by it may participate in any election held under this order. In order to facilitate this process, the Department of Human Services shall provide to an organization interested in representing individual providers access to the names and addresses of current individual providers. The expenses of all proceedings should be borne by any participating organization(s).

3. This Executive Order is not intended to and will not in any way alter 1) the fact that individual providers are not state employees, 2) the employment arrangement of individual providers and consumers, or 3) the consumers’ control over the hiring, in-home supervision, and termination of individual providers within the limits established by the Home-Based Support Services Program.

4. In according individual providers and their selected representative these rights, the State intends that the “State action exemption” to application of the federal antitrust laws be fully available to the State, individual providers, and their selected representative to the extent that their activities are authorized pursuant to this Executive Order.

This Executive Order 2009-15 shall take effect upon filing with the Secretary of State.

Pam Harris of Western Springs, Illinois, the mother of a 20-year-old son with severe developmental disabilities who receives in-home care stipends, questioned the state’s failure to make a no-representation option clear. She and other parents dared to criticize the union effort publicly in a piece published September 3 in the Chicago Tribune. (“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.”) Harris and other parents scraped together their own money (no match for Big Labor coffers) and put together an informational flyer to counter-balance the pro-union propaganda and inform home-based providers that they could opt for no union representation.

The union-pandering state government responded by trying to gag parental critics — yet another stark illustration of SEIU president Andy Stern’s “persuasion of power.”

On September 11, home-based providers received this warning from the Department of Human Services informing them that “it is the position of the State of Illinois that service facilitation providers within the Home-Based Support Services Program remain neutral as it pertains to the election covering Personal Support Workers. Your compliance is greatly appreciated:”

On September 14, another government bureaucrat — Robb Craddock of the Central Management Services, Deputy Director of Labor Relations — sent a memo to every personal support worker with a thinly-veiled threat against union critics (PDF of letter is here):

It is important to note that any literature or other communication that Personal Support Workers have received advocating a vote for no representation, or a vote for SEIU or AFSCME, has not been sent or endorsed by any governmental entity. This includes literature and communications from service facilitation providers within the Home-Based Support Services Program. Again, the State of Illinois does not endorse any particular choice in this election; the choice is one for each individual Personal Support Worker to make. I assure you that your participation or non-participation in the election process will not affect your ability to remain a Personal Support Worker. If you have received any communications from service facilitation providers urging you to vote a particular way in the election, please contact us at (217) 782-9712. We have notified all service facilitation providers that it is the State’s position that they remain neutral as it pertains to the election.

And on September 21, the state sent yet another memo out to home-based providers threatening to cut off funding for making “anti-union” statements:

Parent Pam Harris summed it up for me last week: “Our governor receives money and support from a union. He signs an Executive Order allowing that union to organize a unique group of workers who provide personal supports to people with substantial functioning limitations in the privacy of their home. Most of who[m] are parents. In the Executive Order, the Governor states that this group of workers are NOT employees of the State of Illinois but he acts like our boss when he says that “the state will recognize a representative designated by a majority” of the workers. Then neither the state or the unions inform the unique group that they have a right to vote for NO union representation until 2 weeks prior to the election. The state also successfully quashes any legitimate avenues for the flow of information about the option for NO union representation by sending a thinly veiled “cease and desist memo” to every personal support worker and every service facilitation provider. Our adult children have substantial functional limitations. We are just trying to get accurate information about a very important decision that will affect their lives. Maybe someone thinks we are too overwhelmed caring for our children to pay attention. Well, they are mistaken.”

Here is the flyer Harris and other parents have sent out. Ballots for the election are due October 19:

SEIU is turning up the heat. Home-based providers have been targeted by Access Living, a left-wing advocacy group that is partners with SEIU Local 880 and ACORN. Access Living’s letter to Illinois home-based providers, signed by the President/CEO Marca Bristo, brags that since they “united with SEIU, we have worked closely with them to win expanded services, better funding and healthcare benefits for providers.”

Despite the state’s gag order on politicking, the SEIU-tied Access Living advocacy letter was exempted from the gag order.

Could a union-Democrat Party-sponsored home invasion attempt be coming to your state?

Illinois is not alone.

The SEIU also has its eye on Kansas:

In August, the state, on behalf of the Service Employees International Union, sent out letters to retrieve contact information of in-home health care workers. SEIU, which actively works on behalf of Democrats, asked for the information under the Kansas Open Records Act.

SEIU Healthcare Kansas made the request for contact information so it could “communicate with providers of consumer directed care in the state, and convey essential information about issues affecting the providers and their families as well as the quality of care for consumers in Kansas,” the SEIU letter said.

Then in September, after a storm of criticism from Republicans and some representatives of in-home health employees, the state sent out a second letter saying it had reconsidered and would not be collecting the information for the SEIU.

SEIU actually made two requests under the Kansas Open Records Act — one for the contact information of providers of consumer directed care and one for contact information for a list of vendors used to fulfill the first Open Records request.

According to memos from the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, the state was going to charge SEIU about $4,500 to collect this information.

But Michelle Ponce, spokeswoman for SRS, said since the decision was made not to fulfill the records requests, SEIU would not get charged. That leaves the state having to pay for the initial letters to providers and the follow up letters that the state would not seek the information. That printing and postage will be about $1,000, Ponce said.

Background docs here.

Who will fight the SEIU and its power-hungry union competitors?

With a few exceptions, Republican officeholders have been asleep at the wheel — or worse, on the union dole themselves:

Today conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft joined families with disabled children to protest Gov. Pat Quinn’s Executive Order 09-15 which provides public sector unions SEIU and AFSCME the ability to unionize providers of services to the disabled under the Home-based Support Services Program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services. In many instances, the persons who have qualified for assistance as home-based service providers are the parents of the disabled children.

“This is appeasement of the public sector unions by Gov. Quinn at the expense of quality service and service providers to disabled people in Illinois,” said Proft. “Quinn is at the mercy of the public sector unions and, as a result, he has green-lighted the despicable, coercive efforts of SEIU and AFSCME. They seek to impose themselves on families and increase the costs of service provision on those who already struggle to provide quality care to their disabled children.”

“This is par for the course in state government,” Proft continued. “Systems are fixed in favor of the public sector unions and the politicians they support and against people who play by the rules, including the most vulnerable among us.”

“If Gov. Quinn truly cares about families with disabled children, he will rescind Executive Order 09-15 and call off the SEIU and AFSCME attack dogs,” said Proft.

Proft also called on fellow Republicans to stop accepting campaign cash from SEIU and AFSCME.

“For too long, Republicans in Illinois have gone along to get along,” said Proft. “They have been complicit with public sector unions who have had the run of this state at taxpayer expense while people who play by the rules have been fleeced to finance the status quo.”

“We, as Republicans, need to take the fight to the public sector unions and speak with moral clarity,” Proft continued. “We cannot do this if we’re on their dole. Republicans and Republican campaign committees from the State Party on down should cease accepting campaign contributions from SEIU and AFSCME if we desire to present a comprehensive reform agenda for Illinois with clean hands.”

Proft noted that last week the Illinois State Republican Party Chairman called on a Democrat U.S. Senate candidate to renounce his ties to SEIU and SEIU-backed candidates.

“If we’re going to call on others to cut ties from SEIU, then we should begin by doing so ourselves,” Proft added.

State Senator Kirk Dillard, one of Proft’s opponents, has taken more than $3600 in contributions from SEIU and AFSCME. The House Republican Organization has accepted more than $83,000 from SEIU and AFSCME.

Parent Pam Harris didn’t choose to lead a revolt against Big Labor. “We’re not boat-rockers. We struggle to keep it together. There’s little time to deal with union organizing and gag orders and privacy invasions of the state. Do you know how blown away I am that a bureaucrat is phoning me and sending me e-mail?”

But, she says, “I don’t want my money to be used to help SEIU exercise their political muscle. They have issues I don’t want to support and I don’t agree with. I’ll jeopardize what little support I do have. Somebody has to speak up!”

The Culture of Corruption has never hit so close to home.

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