May 25, 2012
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office today declared the State of Michigan has no legal authority to withhold public employee union dues from the payments issued to home help providers through the Michigan Medicaid program.
"Private individuals do not transform into public employees simply by participating in taxpayer-funded programs like Medicaid," said Schuette. "In order to comply with the law, State agencies should end the withholding of public union dues from private individuals who provide home help."
The attorney general's office responded to questions raised by Rep. Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt) regarding the enforcement of Public Act 76 of 2012, which amended the Public Employment Relations Act to exclude from the definition of public employee those who receive a government subsidy for private employment. The response was in the form of a letter signed by Schuette's Chief Legal Counsel Richard Bandstra.
"The attorney general's involvement in this issue is welcome relief given that the courts were unwilling to weigh in," said Rep. Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt). "The ongoing uncertainty has meant that more than thirty million dollars in Medicaid money has been diverted from the disabled citizens it was intended to help. Outside meddlers can't use a magic wand to re-categorize the sons and daughters of Alzheimer's patients into public employees, and these taxpayer dollars need to go towards keeping loved ones out of nursing homes, not lining the pockets of shameful opportunists."
"I would like to thank Attorney General Schuette for his leadership on this issue," said Sen. Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell). "Home help workers are not public employees, and union money should not be taken out of their Medicaid payments. This was a crafty deal put together behind closed doors that should end immediately."
Senate Bill 1018, sponsored by State Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, amends the Public Employment Relations Act to reflect the original intention of the Legislature. The measure was signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder on April 10, 2012, and is Public Act 76. Rep. Paul Opsommer previously sponsored the House version of the legislation, HB 4003.
The need for the law was underscored by a 2005 Michigan Quality Community Care Council vote that recognized a labor organization as the bargaining representative of Home Help Services workers, who are funded with Medicaid dollars but employed by the private individuals they serve.
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