DETROIT (AP) - A judge blocked a new Michigan law Wednesday that’s aimed at ending union dues paid by home health care workers who are private contractors and not public employees.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds was a defeat for Republican lawmakers and GOP Gov. Rick Snyder who have been trying to unwind unusual labor deals arranged during the administration of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a pro-union Democrat who left office in 2011.
Edmunds said the April law as it applies to SEIU Healthcare Michigan is illegal because it interferes with a contract that doesn’t expire until February.
SEIU Healthcare represents 42,000 home health care aides, although they are self-employed and not government workers. Some even are family members of the sick, who need help with bathing, meals, medication and other tasks.
Union dues are deducted from taxpayer subsidies that go to home workers. Union lawyer John Canzano said it adds up to $400,000 to $500,000 a month.
The union in 2005 won the right to represent the home-based workers after the Department of Community Health, under the Granholm administration, struck a deal with a three-county agency that serves the elderly. That led to a creation of another group to coordinate services and create a registry of home-care providers.
Critics, especially conservatives, complain that the Granholm administration was simply helping unions at a time when membership is slipping. A similar arrangement involving thousands of day-care workers who got state subsidies and paid union dues ended in 201
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