In 2009, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, a public-interest law firm that is affiliated with the publisher of this Policy Brief, brought suit against a unionization similar to the 2005 unionization of in-home caregivers. The 2009 lawsuit involved the unionization of home-based day care business owners and other home day care providers who receive indirect state child care subsidies on behalf of low-income parents enrolled in the state’s Child Development and Care Program. This lawsuit and the subsequent publicity led to legislative hearings. The Legislature later defunded the MQC3 for fiscal 2012. This defunding was meant to end the MQC3’s existence and the collective bargaining agreement that required the in-home caregivers to pay the SEIU’s union dues and agency fees. The MQC3, however, continued to operate in a limited capacity.[*]
Ultimately, in March and April 2012, the Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 45 and Public Act 76, respectively. Both pieces of legislation clearly excluded in-home caregivers and home-based day care providers from the definition of “public employees” under state law. Public Act 76 altered the Public Employment Relations Act specifically to affirm:
A person employed by a private organization or entity who provides services under a time-limited contract with this state or a political subdivision of this state or who receives a direct or indirect government subsidy in his or her private employment is not an employee of this state or that political subdivision, and is not a public employee. This provision shall not be superseded by any interlocal agreement, memorandum of understanding, memorandum of commitment, or other document similar to these. (Emphasis added.)
Public Act 76 was signed and went into effect on April 10, 2012. On April 9, 2012, however, one day before the new law went into effect, the MQC3 and the SEIU entered into an extension of the existing collective bargaining agreement. This contract extension was approved by MQC3’s director, who at that time operated the MQC3 from her home and stated that she could devote only a limited amount of time to the council because she was collecting unemployment insurance.
[*] The circumstances surrounding the MQC3’s continued operation will be discussed further below under “The Relationship Between the MQC3 and the SEIU.”