After skimming $34,416,335.21 in taxpayer dollars and stuffing it in their pockets, the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) “skim scam” operation is finally at an end. After seven years of recording what could charitably be called a “union dues arrangement” – but should more honestly be referred to as public theft – the “Skimtracker” on the website of Capitol Confidential has finally stopped ticking.
The contract between a Michigan state agency and the SEIU Healthcare Michigan expired on February 28, and no longer will home care givers have union dues withheld from their state payments. A new law passed a year ago clarified once and for all that the home care workers were not state employees – and could not be organized as such. An attempt by the SEIU to bypass the law by locking the scheme into the state Constitution was soundly defeated at the polls.
The whole sorry affair began when the former Granholm administration conspired with the SEIU to create an interdepartmental agreement under which the state of Michigan classified home care workers who received taxpayer dollars via Medicaid or Medicare for the service they provide as “state employees” – thus giving the labor union an opportunity to organize them. Under this concocted arrangement, the home care workers were considered state employees only for the purpose of union organizing, and were not allowed workers compensation, health insurance, or unemployment benefits as is typically the case for most state workers.
After a shady election by mail, where only a fraction of the ballots were returned, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC), another state bureaucracy, declared that all of the home care workers in question were now members of the SEIU and the state began deducting the union dues from the caregiver’s Medicaid payments.
Most of the self-employed home care providers netted into this scheme were relatives taking care of family members and loved ones with severe disabilities. Most of them became aware they were now members of SEIU only when they saw the money removed from their state Medicaid payments. Most could not recall ever receiving a ballot in the mail to vote yes or no on the arrangement. For them the bottom line was that taxpayer money intended to help them care for loved ones was being diverted to enrich a labor union they wanted no part of. The battle to right this wrong lasted seven years and the arrangement cost taxpayers more than $30 million dollars.
Thus ends one of the most shameful and under-reported scams in Michigan history. Although it is perfect material for CNBC’s “American Greed” – the popular cable TV show that explores all matter of big money scams and schemes – it won’t be featured because – while unethical, immoral and downright shameful – it was legal.
In fact, the real lesson here for would be scam artists looking to get the big score without threat of jail time is to construct their scam with the help of a sitting union sympathizing governor and state bureaucrats.