Media Release: Center Calls for Postponement of Child Care Unionization Election

October 1, 2013

Providence, RI — Based on today’s U.S. Supreme Court announcement to hear a related Illinois case, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity is now calling on the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) to cancel the planned election about whether or not upwards of 680 home child care providers should accept the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as their exclusive union representative.

According to a press release this morning by the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, the U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it is granting a writ of certiorari in a case that will decide whether Illinois home-care providers can be forced into union ranks against their will. The Harris-vs-Quinn case challenges a forced-unionism scheme enacted by Illinois Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn on the grounds that it violates their rights to free expression and association by forcing them to subsidize union lobbying.

Earlier in the month, the Center called on the Rhode Island SLRB to merely delay the election until it publicly commented on and evaluated a ruling in mid-September from the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that granted an injunction to stop a similar planned election in Minnesota, pending action from the U.S. Supreme Court. Today’s announcement creates an even stronger argument to hold off on the election.

“Now, with the highest court in the land clearly recognizing that there may be an issue with forced unionization, the SLRB must postpone this election and avoid a potential legal morass until the United States Supreme Court makes its final ruling next year”, insisted Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “With area unions publicly stating that it is their plan to force unionization upon even more independent business owners and contractors in our state, it is even more important that the SLRB does not move forward with a process that my soon be ruled as unconstitutional.”

Earlier this month, the Center published a report highlighting concerns that unionization may cause for taxpayers, service providers, and other independent business owners.

Stenhouse discusses issue on WPRI-12 NewsMakers … 

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Center to Conduct “Child Care Union 101′ Seminars

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  – September 18, 2013

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity announced today that it will conduct a series of “Child Care Union 101” seminars this coming Saturday for home child care providers, including a bi-lingual session.

To raise awareness among providers who will participate in an upcoming election about whether or not to accept the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as their exclusive union representative, the Center has received funding to launch a public awareness campaign, with the goal of reaching as many of the 580 providers as possible, in order to provide them with important information before they vote.

The campaign, which kicked off with a post-card mailer this past weekend to providers, will also include social media and telephone outreach.

The private seminars for home child care providers will be conducted by Jennifer Parrish, a child care provider who for years has been organizing providers in Minnesota, and whose organization, the Coalition of Union Free Providers, is partnering with the Center to provide information about the impact that unionization may have on the family child care profession. According to Parrish, “when providers have access to this information, they overwhelmingly oppose unionization.”

The three “Child Care Union 101” Seminars to be held on Saturday September 21, are:

* 10:00AM – 12:00PM (Bi-lingual); Riverside Library 475 Bullocks Point Avenue, Riverside, RI

* 1:00PM – 3:00PM  Cranston Knights of Columbus Hall 1047 Park Avenue #3, Cranston, RI

* 3:30PM – 5:30PM North Providence Free Library 1810 Mineral Spring Avenue, North Providence, RI

Providers can RSVP at the Coalition’s website:  www.childcareunioninfo.com.

Earlier this week, the Center published a report introducing the concerns that unionization may cause for taxpayers, service providers, and other small business owners. The full report can be viewed here.

 

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Beware Child Care Providers & RI

BEWARE! The independence of 580 home child care providers will be decided in an upcoming election about whether they will be forced to unionize under SEIU.  Our report highlights what providers, other service professionals, and taxpayers should know …

[button url=”http://www.rifreedom.org/?p=9597″ target=”_self” size=”small” style=”royalblue” ]Read the full report …[/button]

REPORT: What Taxpayers Should Know About the Unionization of the Home Child Care Industry

Stenhouse discusses issue on WPRI-12 NewsMakers … 

[button url=”http://www.rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/RICFP-ChildCareUnion-091613.pdf” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”royalblue” ]Download Full Report (PDF)[/button]

MEDIA RELEASE, 9/16/13

Providence, RI — With the independence of almost 580 home child care providers to be decided in an upcoming election about whether or not to accept the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as their exclusive union representative, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity published a report today highlighting the risks to the home child care profession, to taxpayers, and to other independent small business owners and contractors in the state.

With record of broken promises and negative consequences in other states and with severe structural budget deficits, both child care professionals and taxpayers in Rhode Island should beware. The report, which reviews data from other states where similar unionization has occurred, documents the associated decrease in child care participation rates and discusses the future risk to other professions in the state.

The Center is partnering with the Coalition of Union Free Providers, a national organization comprised of child care professionals from other states, to provide information about the impact that unionization may have on the family child care profession.

“Across the country, child care providers have found themselves stuck paying high union dues and fees with little to no benefit in return. These providers often didn’t realize their businesses were targets of the SEIU until it was too late”, said Jennifer Parrish, founder of the multi-state Coalition. “Every provider has the right know all the facts, including what this will cost them and how this may impact their profession, prior to casting a ballot. When providers have access to this information, they overwhelmingly oppose unionization.”

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a nonpartisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. The Center works to make a profound, positive impact on the lives of every family and business in the state through the exchange of market-based ideas and reform solutions aimed at restoring economic competitiveness, educational opportunities and – ultimately – hope for a brighter future.

Report Summary

Hundreds of home-based child care professionals, who started their own businesses to build better futures for themselves, may soon lose their independence and the freedom to provide services in the manner they see fit. Most never considered that unionization would be part of their work; nor do they see themselves as incapable of operating their businesses without union representation.

Today, they are independent small business owners; in the coming weeks, if a majority of those who vote at a small special election opt to unionize, every one of them will see herself transformed into a quasi-government worker, forced to pay compulsory union dues or fees and subject to the agenda of a national and international political entity: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The successful unionization of this group of providers, however, will not end the matter, with consequences reaching into industries throughout the state. Other independent service providers who receive subsidized payments from the state may also be forced to unionize against their will, including small business owners or independent contractors in other areas of child or home care, health services, real estate, or even in the retail industry.

Regarding home child care providers, this report reviews results from other states and discusses a number of important considerations and projections of which these providers and the general public should be aware, especially those who are eligible to vote in the upcoming election. If patterns observed with similar efforts in other states hold true in the Ocean State, there are a number of reasons for the child care industry, other professionals, and taxpayers to be concerned:

  • Broken promises: Unions are usually not able to fulfill the promises they make to providers.
  • Individual rights: Child care providers may be severely restricted.
  • Reduced services: In other states, when home child care providers are unionized, the number of providers and children served usually shrinks.
  • Legality: Involuntary representation by a state-selected monopoly union may be unconstitutional.
  • Increased union clout: The financial and political power of the statewide union stands to be substantially increased, with up to $500,000 or more to further advance its political agenda.
  • Trojan horse: The stated mission of the AFL-CIO labor union is to expand its membership in Rhode Island, targeting other independent contractors and small businesses in the state.
  • Burden on taxpayers: As unions seek to provide benefits to a newly unionized professionals, it will come at taxpayer expense.
  • Missed opportunities: Other alternatives do exist for child care and other service providers that might be better for everybody involved.
[button url=”http://www.rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/RICFP-ChildCareUnion-091613.pdf” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”royalblue” ]Download Full Report (PDF)[/button]
See Also:

Center Calls on Labor Relations Board to Revise Child Care Unionization Ballot Language

Unionization of RI Childcare Providers May Be Unconstitutional

Unionization of Child Care Providers May be Unconstitutional

Recently, Rhode Island passed a law requiring childcare providers caring for children from low-income families to accept monopoly union representation. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has petitioned for an election to become the monopoly union representative. This may be unconstitutional.

[button url=”http://www.rifreedom.org/?p=9524″ target=”_self” size=”small” style=”royalblue” ] Read the full post …[/button]

Center Calls on Labor Relations Board to Revise Child Care Unionization Ballot Language

View the official petition to SLRB here … 

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity is calling on the State Labor Relations Board to revise the proposed language on the ballot in the upcoming election that will determine whether or not upward of 580 private contractors – that provide child care services in their home to clients who receive state-subsidized assistance – will become unionized.

The Center recommends a simple revision that more clearly defines the reality of the the options that these childcare providers are being forced to consider. Per a recent report in the Providence Journal, the ballot question currently reads: ‘Do you desire to be represented for the purpose of collective bargaining by Service Employees International Union, District 1199, NE or by no provider representative.”

This language is devoid of the word ‘exclusively’, and, therefore, does not appropriately highlight an important provision that child care providers should be made aware of; that such representation would be exclusive to SEIU, and that by voting to unionize, providers will be forced to petition their state government through an involuntary association. As previously argued by the Center, this may be in violation of their constitutional right to freedom of association.

The Center recommends that the ballot language should be revised to read: ‘Do you desire to be represented for the purpose of collective bargaining exclusively by Service Employees International Union, District 1199, NE or by no provider representative.’

“Many providers, who today proudly call themselves independent business owners, free to make their own decisions about how best to operate their business, are concerned that, after the election, they may be involuntarily reduced to the status of unionized state employees, subject to the agenda of national and international unions, forced to pay dues, and forced to be represented exclusively by the state’s hand-picked monopoly union”, said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center.

Following remarks this past weekend (@ 9:00 minute mark) on WPRI-12’s Executive Suite by AFL-CIO union boss, George Nee, the Center is also concerned that the child care unionization effort is a ‘Trojan Horse’ and just the first of of many planned steps of organized labor where other independent contractors and small business owners across the state will soon also be forced to unionize (e.g., child care centers, home health care providers, landlords), providing even more financial and political clout to unions, and creating a further drag on the state’s already stagnant job market and bloated budget.

Related Links:  Unionization of Child Care Providers May Be Unconstituional

Unionization of RI Childcare Providers May Be Unconstitutional

An attorney from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation provided the following analysis for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity regarding the current effort in the Ocean State to unionize over 550 childcare providers, many of whom are moms running their own independent small businesses.

Recently, Rhode Island passed a law requiring childcare providers caring for children from low-income families to accept monopoly union representation.  The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has petitioned for an election to become the monopoly union representative. If the SEIU wins the election, it will negotiate with the state over reimbursement rates for child care providers and other conditions of their businesses and have the right to confiscate dues from childcare subsidy payments.

Rhode Island is violating providers’ First Amendment rights by forcing them into an unwanted relationship with the SEIU. The First Amendment protects the right of freedom of speech and to petition government. The government does not have the power to force citizens to accept handpicked lobbyists for small businesses.

Childcare providers are small, independent business owners. They set their own working conditions and hours and hire their own employees. Caring for children on state assistance does not transform them into public employees, nor does it create an employment relationship with the state government.

Forcing providers into a union is no different than if Rhode Island tried to force all small businesses to accept the Chamber of Commerce as their mandatory lobbyist. Providers have the right to lobby the state government though voluntary associations, rather than through the state’s handpicked monopoly union.

Similar schemes in Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota have been challenged as unconstitutional. Michigan eventually ended its scheme after a lawsuit was filed, while the Illinois case is pending review at the United States Supreme Court.

Aaron Solem, is a staff attorney for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in Springfield, Virginia.

Related Links:

Center-calls-on-labor-relations-board-to-revise-child-care-unionization-ballot-language

ProJo OpEd: Not Too Late to Block Union Grab

(The Current) Opinion:  Take It From Someone Who’s Been There: Don’t Unionize

(GoLocalProv) Childcare Unionization Battel Heats Up in RI

Coalition of  Union Free Providers (general information)

 

 

RI Medicaid Abuse Puts New Spin on “Laundering” Taxpayer Dollars

MEDIA: NBC- Channel 10, ABC Channel 6

The State of Rhode Island has developed a new spin on the idea of “laundering” money, as part of the cycle of taxpayer dollars that end up in the pockets of the special few, according to a follow-up post today on The Ocean State Current, the journalism wing of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

According to the post by Justin Katz, some unionized laundry workers at the Eleanor Slater Hospital, and throughout the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), routinely double or even triple their salaries to take home over $123,000 per year, due to suspiciously high overtime payments.

The post follows an investigative article published yesterday in The Ocean State Current about six-figure overtime payments to government employed nurses and psychiatrists.

These new laundry worker revelations depict the waste and abuse in the laundering scheme where local and national taxpayer dollars are recycled first through the government via collection of taxes, then, in the Eleanor Slater case, sent to state-run facilities in the form of excessive Medicaid payments, with the money then further cycled directly into the pockets of privileged union employees – in this case, to laundry workers via exorbitant overtime payments.

Result: our hard-earned taxpayer dollars legally recycled to lavishly benefit government workers.

The data for The Current’s article and post was collected by the Center, as part of its transparency effort.For more information about salary and overtime payments made to other state employees, please visit our popular transparency website, www.RIOpenGov.org.

High Overtime, Evasion Raise New Questions About Medicaid Fraud and Waste

Related Links: GoLocalProv, New Allegations Surface in RI Medicaid Fraud

In the wake of an investigative article published this morning in The Ocean State Current about suspiciously high overtime payments to government employed nurses and psychiatrists, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity plans to publish additional related information in the coming week.

Considering that public dollars are being paid to government workers who, for years, have collected six-figures in overtime from a facility that was cited in a recent Medicaid fraud and waste report, “one really has to wonder if the State of Rhode Island is defrauding itself: at taxpayer expense”, commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center.

The recent Block Report cited the Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston, a state-run facility that charges abnormally high fees, as a potential source for abusive Medicaid spending. In her article, Suzanne Bates, a freelance journalist, details how nine employees at that same facility received over $100,000 in overtime compensation alone, pushing gross annual pay for some to over a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

The article also describes the difficulties Bates and the Center faced in getting an explanation and in obtaining the data. The investigative article raises questions that go to the heart of our state government’s inability to manage its budgets in a way that serves all Rhode Islanders:

  • Why would the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital, in Cranston, be so short-staffed that it must pay over one million dollars in overtime to just 9 employees year after year?
  • Is our state truly being served well if union contracts make it more cost-effective for the Dept. of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) to pay exorbitant overtime to some, rather than to hire more people during these hard economic times?
  • If taxpayers are ultimately paying almost the entire bill for this expensive workforce through both state and federal Medicaid dollars, where is the oversight to keep these costs under control?

Later this week, the Center plans to publish a broader list of overtime payments made to other state employees. Next week, the Center plans to launch a new module – that lists regular and overtime compensation for all state employees – to its popular transparency website, www.RIOpenGov.org .

The Ocean State Current is the journalism wing of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. The data for The Current’s article was collected by the Center.

Second-Year Report Card: Lack of Bold Action = Lack of Improvement

Related Links: 2012 Report Card

It isn’t surprising that a year of no bold legislative or executive action to free the Rhode Island economy or education system from its shackles, or to lighten the heavy hand of government, was a year of no significant improvement in the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s annual Report Card on RI Competitiveness.

What changes the Ocean State saw in the report card’s ten major categories came in large part due to changes of the subcategories, a technical change in the Center’s methodology, and tiny shifts that were able to cross a line into a new letter grade.  In 2012, Rhode Island had five grades of F, two of D-, two of D, and one of D+. In 2013, the tally is three of F, four of D-, one of D, and two of D+. (One of the lost Fs was purely a change in the method of ranking states.)

The sheer number of below-average grades does much to explain Rhode Island’s continuing economic decline and population exodus.

“For all the talk last year about the positive legislative steps we supposedly took, the state’s dismal grade point average has barely moved”, said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “We’ve all seen the depressing headlines, but when compiled into a single report, the report card shows how poor public policy is strangling economic opportunities for families in our state.”

The report card organizes 53 national rankings into the following major categories:

  • Tax Burden (D-)
  • Business Climate (F)
  • Spending & Debt (D-)
  • Employment & Income (D-)
  • K-12 Education (D+)
  • Energy (D+)
  • Infrastructure (F)
  • Public Sector (D)
  • Health Care (D-)
  • Living & Retiring in RI (F)

Whether the decision is thoroughly researched or simply based on impressions, these are the categories on which the Ocean State is judged when businesses and individuals make important decisions about their lives and their economic well-being. Having the information all in one place may be discouraging, but it gives those with a vested interest in the health of the State of Rhode Island clear guidelines for what problems must be addressed.