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Voters will decide whether the Michigan Constitution should establish home health care workers as public employees solely for the purpose of collective bargaining.See Proposal 4 as it will appear on the ballotAnd check out the full text of the amendmentYou can find out more about Proposal 4 by reading and listening below.

Truth Squad on Prop 4

Michigan voters have plenty of homework to do before election day. One of the more complicated of the five proposed amendments to the Michigan Constitution is Proposal 4.  Michigan Watch teamed up with the Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad to review the ads.

Proposal 4’s description on the ballot will ask whether in-home care workers may be represented by unions as state employees, whether the Michigan Quality Home Care Council would be required to train workers, create a registry of workers who pass background checks and other provisions.

These workers are paid through the Home Help Services Program which is funded using Medicaid. The workers help people who are disabled or elderly at home as an alternative to putting them in nursing homes. This saves money and allows Medicaid dollars to go further.

John Bebow with the Truth Squad says Proposal 4 would more or less restore things to the way they were starting in 2004.

“Some new rules were put in place several years ago to create a registry for home healthcare workers so that we could run them through criminal background checks and make sure that good people were taking care of vulnerable people. When this registry was passed by the state, it also included a provision that made the home healthcare workers state employees and unionized them.”

Since that system was set up in 2004, politics have changed in Lansing and laws were passed to declare these in-home care workers might be paid by Medicaid, but they were not state employees and could not unionize as public sector workers.

“When Rick Snyder took office with full Republican control of the legislature, they worked to disband those provisions and de-unionized those workers. That issue is in court. And now we see this ballot issue which seeks to reinstitute the union for the workers. That’s really what this issue is about. It’s not what the ads are about.”

The ads on TV from the Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care are in favor of passing Proposal 4. Rather than concentrating on the question whether the workers should be able to unionize, it concentrates on that registry of workers which includes background checks.

This ad features Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wrigglesworth.

“This November we can vote to make home care safer for seniors and people with disabilities by requiring criminal background checks. Join me and others in law enforcement in voting ‘yes’ on 4. Let’s keep home care a safe choice.”

“The problem with that ad the reason that we have called a ‘Technical Foul’ against this particular ad is that that registry, the criminal background checks for these workers are still going on as even some of the proponents of the Proposal  4 campaign have acknowledged,” Bebow explained.

Although it should be noted that registry is supported through contributions… not very stable funding. Proposal 4 would guarantee funding.

It also would guarantee union dues for the Service Employees International Union even though some of these in-home care workers are family members taking care of disabled or elderly relatives. That has anti-union forces calling it a scam to skim Medicaid money. Ballots were sent to workers to vote on whether to unionize. The majority of the ballots returned voted for the union.

A group calledCitizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution opposes Proposal 4. It’s backed by business groups around the state, including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and the Michigan Manufacturers Association. It has not aired ads against Proposal 4 specifically, but has run ads urging a ‘no’ vote on all the proposed amendments.

“They’ll spend tens of millions to get you to say ‘yes,’ to their hidden agendas. Their proposals are loaded with loopholes and special interest power grabs so they can cash in on our Constitution.”

The Truth Squad says that ad “offers nothing to back up its claims.” They gave the ad a ‘Foul.’

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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