February 11, 2010 06:40 AM EST by John Stossel
Michelle Berry runs a day-care business out of her home in Flint, MI. She thought that she owned her own business, but Berry's been told she is now a government employee and union member. It's not voluntary. Suddenly, Berry and 40,000 other Michigan private day-care providers have learned that union dues are being taken out of the child-care subsidies the state sends them. The "union" is a creation of AFSCME, the government workers union, and the United Auto Workers.
This racket means big money to AFSCME, which runs the union, writes the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank.
Today the Department of Human Services siphons about $3.7 million in annual dues to the union….
The money should be going to home-based day-care providers — themselves not on the high end of the income scale. Ms. Berry now sees money once paid to her go to a union that does little for her…
Patrick Wright, a lawyer for the Macknac Center, says the union was forced on the women after a certification election conducted by mail in which only 6,000 day-care providers out of 40,000 voted. Wright told me his clients, like Berry, say they were "shocked" to learn they were suddenly in a union.
They want nothing to do with the union. One of my clients has said, “Look, this is my home, I’m both labor and management here.” They’ve wanted nothing to do with this union and don’t think that it has any purpose besides than to siphon money away from them.
Michigan isn't the only state funding unions this way.
Fourteen states have now enabled home-based day-care providers to be organized into public-employee unions, affecting about 233,000 people.
Mackinac sued Michigan on behalf of the day-care owners, but the case was dismissed. They have appealed. Neither Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, the Department of Human Services, nor the union would talk to me about this. Last month, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash proposed a law that would end "stealth" unionization of private entrepreneurs.