The ongoing legal battle over the state’s forced unionization of personal care attendants and daycare workers is scheduled for a hearing in Hartford Superior Court Thursday.
This is the first court appearance since the complaints were filed in Waterbury Superior Court on March 23.
Opponents to Malloy’s Executive Orders 9 and 10 say they created a mechanism for forced unionization of personal care attendants and daycare workers. They also say the two orders violate both state and federal labor and constitutional law, and that Malloy usurped the power of the legislature after members refused to consider the matter during the 2011 regular session.
A total of three lawsuits have been filed against Malloy in the matter. Plaintiffs include Cathy Ludlum from the Connecticut Association of Personal Assistance; Maria Nelson from the Childcare Providers Coalition of Southington; Michelle Tyler a Personal Care Attendant; State Sen. Joe Markley (R-Southington); State Rep. Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott) and Fergus Cullen of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. The plaintiffs are represented by Attorney Joe Summa of Waterbury.
The court hearing stems from a lengthy dispute between opponents of forced unionization and the Malloy administration. Some of the home care and day care providers are independent contractors who are opposed to efforts to force them to join the SEIU (Service Employees International Union).
After the issue was died in committee in the 2011 Legislative session due to a lack of support, Malloy issued Executive Orders #9 and #10 which authorized the SEIU to unionize home care and day care providers who had received payments from the state. Care providers who don’t want to join the SEIU nonetheless would be required to pay a fee that would be close to the amount they would have paid in union dues.
The SEIU then conducted a “card check” union vote earlier this year, mailing postcards to some 4,000 day care and home care providers requiring them to vote on the unionization proposal. Only 1,600 were returned, with some opponents saying they didn’t participate because they were denied a secret ballot and didn’t even have the option of exploring representation by unions other than the SEIU.
Although some 60 percent of the people who would be affected by the proposal did not participate in the vote, the SEIU and Malloy declared victory, prompting the lawsuits.
According to Ludlum, “While people on every side of the issue agree that higher wages, health care benefits, and paid time off are desirable, there is strong disagreement about the best way to accomplish these goals.”
Markley added that “Daycare providers are self-employed individuals, and they have the right to make their own decisions. Personal care attendants are not state employees. I have spoken too many, who share a good working relationship with their employers. They neither requested nor desire union involvement.”
“Without legislative oversight, there’s no trusted system of accountability,” Sampson added.
Maria Nelson said, “We’re feeling afraid of where this thing is going to take us and many providers are feeling violated and scared.”
Fergus Cullen, Executive Director of the Yankee Institute of Public Policy has said, “This is about freedom. Individuals should be free to enter into contracts, to hire people or go to work for someone or make arrangements for child care, without interference from unions and without union bosses skimming off union dues.”
Arguments in the case are due to be heard beginning at 11 a.m., in Hartford Superior Court, 95 Washington St.
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