Getting Out of the Union You Didn’t Know You Joined


Tom Steward profiles, for the Minnesota Bureau of, a woman who receives state subsidies as a care taker for her special needs daughter.  Being generally supportive of labor unions, Renee Katz (no known relation) signed a card “supporting an election to form a union.”

She didn’t realize that meant she would automatically become a member of that union if it won the election.  So, “she was outraged to learn that 3 percent of their gross wages [i.e., subsidies for her daughter’s care] would be taken for dues for a union she didn’t realize she joined.”

With the Supreme Court’s ruling that her union (the SEIU) cannot compel either her membership or her dues-like “fair share fees,” Katz has been trying to end the payments.  It became such a hassle that she switched to a whole different care program:

But Katz turned to a different opt-out option. The care recipients she helps have since switched to another state plan, under which PCAs cannot be union members, due to employment laws.

“They (care recipients) didn’t want to deal with the union. They didn’t want them calling anymore, they didn’t want them hounding them,” said Belisle. “And they believe that their salary and tracking information the union wants, their address, their phone numbers and everything else, they don’t believe they (unions) have a right to them.”

As I mentioned during budget season, Rhode Island’s version of this issue is limited to child care providers (also SEIU), and although no details have been released, the dues appear to be substantial.  I’m still trying to get details of the contract, but on based on total dollars, it appears that the governor’s office and the General Assembly gave the union a nice boost in the first contract to forestall providers’ coming to Katz’s conclusion.  That is, our elected officials negotiated sufficiently generous terms that the providers will calculate that being part of the union is definitely in their interest.

And thus is captured another group with a personal interest (and union organization infrastructure) to ensure that nobody is ever elected to office who might actually negotiate on behalf of the taxpayers who have to subsidize the scheme.  One might quip that we taxpayers have, in effect, found ourselves having joined the union, too.  How many of us are imitating Renee Katz and, rather than trying to get out of the deal, are simply moving to other states, beyond the reach of the state government?