I have tried to steer clear of inflaming names like “parasite” when speaking about public unions. In this case, no other word comes close to describing the setup.
Making Millions Off the Disabled
One brave mother, Pam Harris, has resisted forced unionization of herself (as a sole home-caretaker, in her own home, for her disabled son Josh). She resisted all the way to the Supreme Court.
An email from Diana Rickert at Illinois Policy Institute describes the setup. You can also find her article on the Chicago Tribune.
With immense disgust, I present Making Millions Off the Disabled
Josh, the youngest child in the Harris family, was born with a rare genetic disorder. He lives with severe physical, cognitive and emotional struggles. This means the day-to-day tasks most of us take for granted — waking up, splashing water on his face, eating — require a lot of help.
But Josh is blessed to have a family that loves him. They always have been there for him.
In fact, his mother, Pam, has stayed home full time to take care of Josh for the past 25 years. Josh is her primary focus. Not her career. Not vacations. Not social outings with other moms. The truth is, Pam is doing what any mom would do: fighting to give her son the very best care she can.
Josh’s care is expensive. The Harris family is fortunate enough to receive a modest Medicaid benefit administered by Illinois state government. Josh is eligible to receive up to $2,130 per month, or roughly $25,000 a year.
But here is where the Harris family’s story takes a disgusting turn.
Henry Bayer wants some of Josh’s money. In fact, he feels entitled to it.
Who is Henry Bayer?
Bayer is the executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, one of the state’s largest government unions.
Bayer’s salary — approximately $145,000 in 2012, according to public records — is paid for by union dues from government workers. Compulsory union dues, from government workers who must pay money to Bayer and his union whether they want to or not.
Illinois politicians have a dangerously cozy relationship with government unions. In 2009, these close ties paid off: Gov. Pat Quinn issued an executive order to unionize the people in Josh’s program.
Imagine having to pay union dues to collect food stamps or unemployment. That’s what the executive order meant for Josh. For him to continue receiving his Medicaid support and his mother to be his primary caretaker, the Harris family would be forced to give part of their benefit check to either the AFSCME or another union, the Service Employees International Union.
The Harris family wouldn’t stand for it. They alerted other families in the program, and when it came time to vote on which union would represent them, the vote was clear: 220 votes for AFSCME, 293 votes for SEIU, and 1,018 votes with an emphatic “no union!”
Pam Harris and others took their fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oral arguments in Josh’s case were heard Jan. 21, and a decision is expected this summer. Josh’s story has garnered national attention.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court hearing, here is what AFSCME’s Bayer had to say in response to a Chicago Tribune editorial in favor of Pam Harris: If you don’t want to pay union dues, you shouldn’t be eligible for state aid.
A few years before the executive order to unionize the program that the Harris family participates in, Quinn’s predecessor, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, unionized another, similar program for the disabled. The unions didn’t even bother taking a vote that time; they conducted a questionable card-check operation to claim a slim majority of people in this program wanted to pay dues to SEIU.
According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, since 2009 the SEIU has siphoned more than $52 million in union dues from the families in this program.
Pam Harris Video
Here is an interesting video by Pam Harris.
The Illinois Policy Institute was overly polite.
Pam Harris and others are forced against their will to join unions. Those unions do absolutely nothing for Harris except suck like giant parasites, money that should go to the disabled.
It would be fitting if the Supreme Court ruled the SEIU and AFSCME parasites not only have to stop the practice, but also have to pay back the $52 million they stole, plus interest.
These disgusting, parasitic practices occur in many other states as well.
Freedom of Association
I am all in favor of freedom of association. People who want to join the Boy Scouts can. People who want to join the NRA can. People who want to form any kind of work union can. I am happy to let those unions exist.
However, the reverse should be true as well. No one should be forced into an association (or forced into dealing with associations) if they don’t want to.
Imagine the outrage if liberals were forced to join the NRA to get jobs as teachers!
Yet, somehow it’s OK if conservatives have to join the SEIU to take certain jobs. In the case of Harris and other caretakers, the jobs don’t even exist, except for the parasitic collection of union dues!
Forced membership into organizations is nothing more than a form of slavery. And “collective bargaining” is a euphemism for the slavery of forced membership.
Yes, it is indeed that simple, no matter how nice the union slave-masters try to make it sound.
I propose, and hope, that the Supreme Court issues a broad ruling on the matter, ending the slavery of forced collective bargaining once and for all.
About the Author: Mike Shedlock is the editor of the top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis, offering insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education.