Five years ago, then-Lt. Gov. John Cherry contacted Mott Community College officials with a plan: welfare reform legislation was needed, and Mott would be needed to train child care providers. In the process, about 40,000 day care workers would be unionized — many of them without their permission — as part convoluted scheme involving the state of Michigan, Mott, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
But the true intentions of Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration are now suspect because a Mott Community College spokesman says the college was never contacted by the state to provide any child care training. Instead, the community college was used by the Department of Human Services to create an obscure council — the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council — that would be used as the “employer” that the unions could negotiate with. The MHBCCC collected millions of dollars in dues each year from home-based day care workers who took payment in form of state subsidies, and gave them to the unions.
“Nothing was ever asked from us,” said Mott spokesman Michael Kelly, whose college runs an Early Childhood Development Program. “We expected at some point to set up training programs. … We were part of creating it. … The point of the council was to upgrade the skill level of child care givers around the state. .. We had almost no contact at all.”
Patrick Wright, senior legal analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said Mott was needed so an “interlocal agreement” could be created. Wright said interlocal agreements usually allow counties to join together on issues such as water projects without involving state lawmakers.
But in this case, it was necessary so the day care workers could be unionized. The unions needed an employer other than the parents who dropped their children off at the day care and paid them. Wright said it was clear that Mott was just being used to set up the MHBCCC. Wright heads up the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which filed a lawsuit over the forced unionization of many day care provides subject to this process,
“It’s a Casablanca moment,” Wright said, paraphrasing a famous facetious quip from the 1942 classic film. “I’m shocked — shocked! — to find out that this was just a waste of time done to enrich unions!”
MHBCCC representatives haven’t returned e-mails or phone messages.
In 2008, Granholm spoke to an AFSCME conference about the setup.
“In Michigan because of the partnership between AFSCME and the Governor’s office, this means that 45,000 new AFSCME members, quality child care providers, will be on the ground providing care to children,” Granholm said. “That is great for our state.”
However, under new Gov. Rick Snyder, the Michigan Department of Human Services ended its deal with the MHBCCC and had it stop collecting dues.