A press conference that was intended to show support for a legislative proposal obliging day care workers and home-care aides who receive state funds to unionize, turned into a raucous anti-union demonstration at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford today.
The aim of the press conference, which was sponsored by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, was to support the claim that the legislation gives day care and home-care workers who get some of their income through state programs the “right” to unionize. But opponents say it is exactly the opposite – the legislation would require them to join a union.
The press conference ended with vigorous chants of “Vote NO, Vote NO” from the day care providers and home-care aides.
The encounter is the latest activity in an effort by the administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy to force home care and day care providers, some of whom at least are independent contractors, to join the SEIU (Service Employees International Union). During the dispute today it was also noted that care providers who don’t want to join the SEIU would be required to pay a fee that would be close to the amount they would have paid in union dues.
Published reports say that personal care attendants who are paid through a Medicaid waiver system receive from $8.25 to $22 per hour. Daycare providers who receive money through the Care 4 Kids program are paid between $89 and $173 per child, per week, depending upon where their facility is located.
The issue was brought up in the Legislature last year but died in committee with little to no support from either party. Malloy responded by issuing Executive Orders #9 and #10 which paved the way for the SEIU to unionize home care and day care providers who had received payments from the state.
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.
Despite the fact that about 60 percent of the people who would be affected by the proposal did not participate in the vote the SEIU and Malloy declared victory.
Immediately thereafter three lawsuits were filed against the state, including one by the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, seeking to overturn the executive orders.
State Rep. Rob Sampson (R-80) and Sen. Joe Markley (R-16) also have been staunch opponents of the executive orders and associated legislation because they say it would raise the cost of care for disabled people out of control.
Sampson and Markley won a temporary battle just last month after the Legislature took no action on two bills, Senate Bill 352 and House Bill 5433 that would have legitimized Malloy’s Executive Orders.
However, the issue was quietly raised again in the House of Representatives, apparently to give Malloy’s actions some political cover. The House voted 84-57, with eight Democrats voting against the measure, late last Friday night to push for unionization.
The Senate has yet to raise the issue a second time. Markley said after the press conference that he is hopeful the Senate will not raise the measure.
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