HF 950/SF778 Unionization of Self Directed Workers, authored by Representative Nelson and Senator Pappas respectively, comes to the floor of the Minnesota legislature this week
HF 950/SF778 affects residents in Hopkins who presently utilize Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS), which supports disabled older adults and their family caregivers.
The existing CSCS program allows the disabled person more flexibility and responsibility for directing their own services and supports, hiring and managing direct care staff including family members. The vast majority of those enrolled in the program are on a fixed income and pay the state a rather large amount in the form of a spend down. These funds are then used to pay a family member and/or personal care assistant for services. Forced participation and paying dues to an unnecessary and unwarranted union creates an undue hardship and is an insult to the dignity of caregivers and tax-payers alike.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is supporting these bills and stands to benefit substantially by collecting dues if the bills pass. The union bill dismantles Minnesota’s hugely successful CDCS model, a model that has been instrumental in addressing the Ollmstead Decision by keeping thousands of people living in the least restrictive setting – their own home. It strips out employer authority for the participant, giving it to the State: this will have a devastating impact on many families and change the CDCS program dramatically. The union bill does not add value to participants or the State. Participants will loose workers e.g., those who don’t want to be in a union or pay fair share (85%) dues, or be subject to a wage floor. Because wage rates will change, budgets will change meaning less service and destabilizing CDCS participants.
A union contract negotiated with the State would take many things out of the control of the participant including the minimum rate of pay. There are many participants who pay minimum wage in certain circumstances and would no longer have that option.
As there are currently 30,000 PCA workers in Minnesota and this bill will add a dramatic cost to the system if the bills pass. SEIU is getting $6 to $8 million a year in union dues – Medicaid funds in Massachusetts and over $30 million in Michigan.
The 2013 Office of the Legislative Auditor report of State-Operated Services in Minnesota, states that the services in State run group homes are really no different than similar privately run programs and yet staff in State operated programs are in a union and get higher wages than private employees. Common sense would say that we don’t really want to set up another system where a group of employees doing the same work gets paid a higher wage without providing better out comes.
Hopefully, our legislators will exercise their Common Sense, take a moment and put themselves in the shoes of a caregiver for their spouse, Mother or Father, child or loved one and vote NO on the bills for the Unionization of Self-Directed workers……. This is their chance to actually do something about the "quality of life" that they are always espousing. Voting NO is the right thing to do.