The U.S. Supreme Court decided that home healthcare workers in Illinois could not be considered full-fledged state employees and therefore could not be forced to join a union in a landmark ruling (Harris vs. Quinn) last summer. The decision resulted in a wave of union panic and obvious attempts to skirt the law ensued. In fact, the local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775 seemed ready and willing to lead the way.
Following Harris vs. Quinn, SEIU 775 “made no effort to inform any of the approximately 33,000 individual providers it represents of their constitutional rights.” The union has limited its obedience to the law by ceasing to automatically deduct dues from the paychecks of only those providers who specifically ask them to do so—otherwise it continues business as usual. SEIU 775 refuses to mention providers’ right to decline association on its website or Facebook page. Making matters worse, SEIU 775 deceptively worked to persuade individual providers to sign away their constitutional rights via a letter campaign.
The Freedom Foundation responded to the injustice by seeking the names of the affected workers via a series of public disclosure requests to the state. The goal is to inform the workers of their legal rights under Harris v. Quinn. Of course, SEIU 775—among other unions—did not stand idly by and watch the Freedom Foundation shine a light on their web of lies. The union filed a lawsuit to prevent the Freedom Foundation from obtaining the names of the affected providers. However, judge ruled that Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) must release the names of home healthcare providers to the Freedom Foundation.
But, that still hasn’t stopped SEIU 775. Pursuing a legal course of action proved fruitless, so the union has decided to step up its tactics of demonization and intimidation. According to the Freedom Foundation, SEIU recently sent a
“panicked email to home health care providers” touting lies concerning the Freedom Foundation’s efforts to “inform union members that they have freedom of choice when it comes to union membership.” Of course, SEIU’s claims are “full of lies, misinformation and half truths” in an attempt to “demonize the Freedom Foundation.”
So, the Freedom Foundation decided to defend itself by calling out SEIU’s lies with the truth. Check out the Freedom Foundation’s line-by-line proofreading below.
(The Freedom Foundation’s response is italicized.)
Date: May 27, 2015 at 6:00:00 PM PDT
To: [Home Health Care Providers] From: Peggy Myers, caregiver
Subject: A warning for caregivers
Warning: a radical, anti-caregiver organization may have somehow gotten your contact information and is trying to get in touch with you. The so-called Freedom Foundation has a dangerous motive: They want to roll back wages and benefits for caregivers and stop you from getting a retirement benefit.
“Anti-caregiver?” This is an absurd accusation. The need for caregivers is undeniable, and the Freedom Foundation has certainly neither opposed the providing of care nor the fine people who provide care.
“want to roll back wages and benefits… retirement?” Again, absurd. No evidence has ever been offered that the Freedom Foundation, a champion for effective government services, has acted to change the compensation of care providers to the most vulnerable.
First they tried to eliminate our union entirely, but that didn’t work.
If requiring the union officials to hold an election rather than passing dues payers around like chattel is “eliminating” SEIU 775, then yes. It’s true we want providers to know they have rights with respect to who and how their representation happens.
Now they are writing and emailing our members and urging caregivers to drop their SEIU 775 membership. Don’t be duped.
The definition of “dupe” is to manipulate by withholding information, and the dues collectors at SEIU are guilty of leaving thousands of care providers unaware of the options they have. Our efforts are doing nothing more than informing caregivers of their newly affirmed right to opt out of the union if they so choose. Even SEIU grudgingly concedes they have that right, but it’s spending the members’ own dues money to keep them from knowing it. So again, which side is duping the workers?
The Freedom Foundation wants us to drop our union membership so they can roll back the clock on all the gains we’ve made.
Since SEIU operates a scheme of dues collection rather than an actual workplace representation service, it cannot claim credit for industry gains. The reimbursement rates and other provision for care providers currently comes – and always has come – entirely from the state’s budget-writing process. For simply giving advice to the governor and lawmakers about what those levels should be, SEIU collects 3.2 percent of all the money intended to provide care for the needy.
Moreover, why does it necessarily follow that caregiver pay and benefits would go down without the union’s participation? Maybe they’d net more money every month if they weren’t paying dues to SEIU. In any case, the decision should be made by the caregivers voting to advance their own interests — which is precisely what the Freedom Foundation wants to see happen, while SEIU is fighting tooth and nail to prevent it.
They oppose our right to bargain with the state for higher wages and decent benefits.
This is not true. The ability to force government to kowtow to a private special interest group like the SEIU is not a “right” but a privilege granted by an initiative that the SEIU paid at least $1.2 million to pass. Likewise, forcing care providers to give money intended for care is also a privilege granted by the initiative SEIU purchased. This privilege generated $22 million for the SEIU bureaucracy in 2014.
They want the Legislature to reject our new union contract with a $2/hour raise over several years and a first-ever retirement benefit;
This is a lie. We have not taken any action to oppose the legislature’s budget priorities for care providers.
They don’t respect our clients’ right to privacy.
The lies keep coming. Clients’ right to privacy is very important, and nowhere can the bureaucrats of SEIU 775 provide an example of the Freedom Foundation showing any interest in client information.
They want our private contact information to be a matter of public record.
In point of fact, the only private financial venture with access to providers’ private contact information is SEIU 775. The Freedom Foundation seeks public records listing providers who offer public services with public funds. SEIU spent providers’ dues money to protect its monopoly control over what providers learn about their rights. They continue to lose in court because the public record—a list of publicly funded providers—is not the exclusive property of SEIU.
If you want to keep the wages and benefits we have won, don’t respond to their mailings or emails.
Wages and benefits are set by the Legislature, so it’s a lie to suggest that opting out of SEIU 775 will cause you to lose compensation.
I was a caregiver before we had a union and there is no way I’m going back there. I barely made $7 an hour when we formed our union in 2002. I had no L&I — if I was hurt on the job, tough luck for me. I had no healthcare, no dental or vision coverage, no mileage reimbursement, no training, no paid time off, and no voice at the Capitol.
Provision for these things has been, and will continue to be, the result of decisions in the legislative process. However, all people have a voice in the Capitol, and joining SEIU to amplify that voice has been and will continue to be every citizens’ right. As is opting out.
Truth is, homecare workers were invisible — but not now, not with SEIU 775. Now I have health care, dental and vision insurance, mileage reimbursement, professional training, paid time off, and boy, do they know us at the Capitol.
The freedom to associate is a liberty the Freedom Foundation strongly supports. We oppose the power given to a private financial enterprise to force people to fund politics and lobbying as a condition of providing a service of importance to the public. The U.S. Supreme Court agrees that SEIU should not have this power to coerce payment. The Freedom Foundation seeks to ensure all care providers know about this right; meanwhile, SEIU is moving heaven and earth to keep that information from them. The contrast is just that simple.
Oh, and now I make nearly $15 an hour, and our new contract calls for the nation’s first-ever retirement plan for homecare workers.
If you want to keep a strong union and get our raises and retirement benefit funded, don’t respond to the Freedom Foundation’s mailings or emails.
Considering and responding to the Freedom Foundation does not impact raises, retirement or even the strength of the union—unless the union’s strength is entirely built on the ignorance of providers. If it is dependent on refusing to consider new knowledge, maybe it isn’t as worthy as suggested.
There is no way that I am going to stand by and let a radical, anti-union group like the Freedom Foundation tear apart what we have fought so hard to build. I’ve fought every year and I’ll continue to fight. Join with me and say no to this devious organization.
Home care worker, Lakewood
215 Columbia St, Seattle, WA 98104
Member Resource Center: Toll-Free 1 (866) 371-3200
The Freedom Foundation seeks to add to the knowledge of care providers. The paid SEIU bosses, like Peggy Myers, have fought to perpetuate ignorance of the right to choose, which has been affirmed by the Supreme Court. SEIU’s enterprise collects $22 million without any meaningful accountability to those whose money it takes.
Is it more devious to provide information with no personal financial gain, or is it more devious to fight to repress information because of personal gain?
Eastside Sanity says
The whole thing reeks of liberal progressive Horse$#it.
Ronda Barnhurst says
SEIU isn’t above lying to protect their interests, however the people they represent need to read more than the union BS and know what their REAL RIGHTS are. Maybe a nice letter to the editor in each of the major cities would help.
Impairor Buttplug says
I love SEIU they are awesome and got us the raises we needed and our clients needed. Caregivers care for people they deserve a living wage i think you will find that Caregivers will happily choose to pay the union
Rmzey Allen says
SEIU has effected positive change for home care workers in Washington State and I choose to remain a paying, card-carrying member, however in review of their budgets and allocations of funds, the experiences that I have had with SEIU, the quality of the benefits and services that we have from SEIU (or lack there of) is greatly over appraised by SEIU and members that blindly rally in support of SEIU’s overall character and generosity – frankly, SEIU is not very generous, SEIU is not always forthcoming and honest with it’s members and it can be said in fact, SEIU could do a lot more for it’s members. People that blindly advertise that SEIU is better than they are, I believe hurt us all as a whole; as only when SEIU realizes that it’s members want and deserve more – SEIU must know that we are not ignorant to their ways, otherwise they will continue to offer less and less, especially when members who know very little about the unions shortcomings, or are unwilling to urge SEIU publicly to do better for us; why would they do better if so many people are willing to say they are GREAT? The union will simply take the praise and continue to do as little as they possibly can to maintain the praise and presence, while they line their pockets with our money. I suggest all members to read your CBA, read articles and research what our union does and fails to do, long before you blindly support them entirely.
If you believe that SEIU places its member’s needs and benefits to its members first, sorry to say, we are far from first – our money is first, but our needs and quality of benefits seems closer to last. SEIU, like many businesses and organizations (if not all) place the establishment and it’s staff far before it places it’s members. If you read your CBA, visit SEIU’s website and do your own research; you will find this to be true. Granted, I am very appreciative of the changes that SEIU has brought to the home care providers in Washington over the past 10+ years, however I will not blindly support, nor will I rant and rave in approval of SEIU and it’s practices. As an independent provider of many years, I was around before SEIU entered the picture. I gladly will say, SEIU has been involved in many positive changes as well, I humbly thank and support the members that have volunteered at the steps of our capitol and other functions, however, I feel any person that blindly condones, ignores or places SEIU higher in appraisal than they really are is at best; naive.
Our healthcare benefits have not improved by going with Group Health Cooperative. GHC is one of the cheapest and in my opinion, poorest quality coverage available. When SEIU decided to go from Premiera/Regence, we lost a lot of quality. Their are many providers, even if you have the PPO version of GHC, that cringe when they see this insurance, or in many cases; they won’t take it at all. In fact, several of my previous providers stopped taking GHC and many of them compared it to that of welfare benefits, claiming it barely covers enough to keep the lights on. Obviously, GHC pays better than welfare benefits, but the coverage considering the amount we pay specifically for the coverage in addition to our regular union dues, could be much better. Now, the argument that some may have is that insurance is expensive, this I am well aware; however when you have 1,500,000 members, the coverage is in fact, very cheap compared to buying it for 1 person; SEIU gets a substantial discount for each policy due to the amount of policies our members take out for healthcare. Our union should not profit from our contributions for healthcare; the calculations and research I have done, shows that SEIU does in fact profit in this manner. Honestly, I might be ok with that, if we had some insurance options, but unlike “GHC-Options” we truly have no options. Our RX costs have more than doubled, almost tripled, out-of-pocket costs have increased, also nearly tripled; and lets face it – Group Health Cooperative was designed as an HMO, they want you to see their providers for the greatest “savings” and even if you have “GHC-Options” you will find that there is few options and as for savings, there truly is none to be had, unless you use GHC pharmacy. Using GHC Pharmacy means, you will get the cheapest quality medication, and they will do EVERYTHING in their power to try and keep you from getting better quality medications, even when you coverage includes these medications.
I continue to pay SEIU as I do appreciate the fact that they have helped us as a whole, but if anyone is listening at SEIU that actually gives a damn about it’s members: We members pay good money for quality services and benefits and if SEIU does not start taking better care of it’s members, entities such as Freedom and possibly others will try to steal away the members, beginning with those that have been wronged by SEIU and those that have educated themselves on some of the shady practices that SEIU has demonstrated. Since SEIU took over with the training partnership which replaced the state training we use to get, honestly, I had expected a much better online presence and platform and a more modern look and feel that was better put together. When they first launched the online training, it was a mess and many providers had to take classes over and over, and still didnt get credit. One year, their online classrooms failed to properly credit me for courses that I had taken, which put me non-compliant and cost me out-of-pocket to take courses that I had already satisfied (more than once due to their videos that would not load and did not give proper credit) and the quality of the training is very poor. This is something that could be improved upon as well. SEIU is well funded by its members, and if members do not start mentioning the things that are sub-par; it is likely that SEIU will not continue to improve the quality of services they provide to their members.
As of late, I was offended by being tricked into signing a new union card which SEIU pushed on us, in the guise of an increased amount of life insurance (a benefit); they used a benefit (an entitlement) to entice it’s members to unknowingly sign a release to sue them now or in the future for their alleged misappropriation of member contributions. That is pretty low. SEIU continues to try to get members to sign these cards that release them from being sued for their alleged wrong doing. Whether or not SEIU did misuse member funds, I don’t know; but I know I would not be surprised if they had, especially since they are trying to be so sneaky about it, with this re-signings of member cards that will prevent members from suing them. Seems suspicious that they would try to limit liability at the preamble of wrongdoing. I do believe SEIU should be paid and I will continue to support SEIU, however, if SEIU continues to be clouded or non-transparent and forthcoming; they may lose my support in the future.
According to our CBA, SEIU is the “sole” representative of its members… good luck asking for support if ever a member has trouble on the job, if false allegations are made, individual work related problems that a member may face – member’s will learn and I have seen and experienced the like myself; SEIU will not assist in any manner when it comes to individual member needs; SEIU only helps when its a large group of members, such as the whole union or when SEIU stands to make money for the union. As a former Teamster, never would a Teamster not be represented or at least offered the availability to meet with a Union Rep – SEIU has never provided a union rep for many relevant problems. SEIU will tell you themselves, they only represent “us” members when it has to do with our money or union-wide matters. That to me seems ridiculous, especially because SEIU is well paid and well funded. Again, I urge you to look at SEIU’s funding and allocations – I guarantee once you have seen how they actually allocate the money we pay them, you will feel as if they could do a much better job in actually representing its members needs, especially since they allocate so much money to things having absolutely nothing to do with its members. Instead of finding cheaper insurance for its members, they could easily cut down on the millions and millions they spend on other seemingly high cost ticket items benefiting SEIU, and not its members. Us members do not benefit from their fancy buildings and many other expenses – all funded by us.
I am very thankful for SEIU, however that appreciation can only go as far as fair – it is not fair to pay top dollar for low-quality services and benefits. Look at SEIU’s budget allocations, look closely at the quality of the training they provide, and read the small print and without much effort, you will find SEIU is clearly not doing its best for us. I hope that this and those comments of other members that point out some of the short-comings of SEIU will compel SEIU to do better for us, as they are well paid and well funded. If they do not, they will continue to lose members – it is inevitable.