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Compulsory union membership — for the self-employed

Posted by Richard on February 13, 2010

Just when you think you've heard it all, along comes a story like this one from Michigan, via John Stossel:

Michelle Berry runs a day-care business out of her home in Flint, MI. She thought that she owned her own business, but Berry's been told she is now a government employee and union member. It's not voluntary. Suddenly, Berry and 40,000 other Michigan private day-care providers have learned that union dues are being taken out of the child-care subsidies the state sends them. The "union" is a creation of AFSCME, the government workers union, and the United Auto Workers.

So, instead of paying the child care subsidy to the people being subsidized — the qualifying child care consumers — the state pays it directly to their providers. And one day, it just told those providers, "We're taking some of the money you're owed and sending it to the union that we've made you a part of." 

This illustrates one important reason why these liberal statists are so opposed to vouchers or credits, whether for education, child care, or whatever, even though it's simple, direct, and eliminates a lot of overhead and bureaucratic nonsense. It's not just about helping "those in need," as they claim — it's about control. If they send a voucher or subsidy payment directly to "those in need," they can directly control only the consumers they're subsidizing. By inserting the state into the transaction as a middleman, they can control both parties to the transaction. 

Patrick Wright, a lawyer for the Mackinac Center, says the union was forced on the women after a certification election conducted by mail in which only 6,000 day-care providers out of 40,000 voted. Wright told me his clients, like Berry, say they were "shocked" to learn they were suddenly in a union.

They want nothing to do with the union. One of my clients has said, “Look, this is my home, I’m both labor and management here.” They’ve wanted nothing to do with this union and don’t think that it has any purpose besides than to siphon money away from them.

Michigan isn't the only state funding unions this way.

Fourteen states have now enabled home-based day-care providers to be organized into public-employee unions, affecting about 233,000 people.

Mackinac sued Michigan on behalf of the day-care owners, but the case was dismissed. They have appealed. Neither Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, the Department of Human Services, nor the union would talk to me about this. Last month, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash proposed a law that would end "stealth" unionization of private entrepreneurs.

I'm not surprised that this is happening in Michigan. If it's anti-liberty, anti-business, and anti-growth, the government of Michigan is probably doing it. I'm surprised, though, that 14 other states are pulling this outrageous scam. But I guess if it benefits a public employee's union, plenty of state legislators everywhere will fall all over themselves to support it. They've been bought and paid for by those unions.

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