Robert Haynes: 'It took ordinary people like us to bring attention to what was really happening.'
Robert and Patricia Haynes have been fighting to get out of the Service Employees International Union and thanks to the defeat of Proposal 4, they should soon be free from the forced unionization scheme.
Voters on Tuesday rejected the SEIU's plan to continue the scheme by forcing it into the state constitution. The vote failed 56 percent against adding it to the constitution, to 44 percent in favor. That result came despite more than $9 million being spent by Proposal 4 supporters. Aside from a universal "vote no" on amending the state constitution campaign, there was no organized effort against Proposal 4.
The Hayneses take care of their adult son and daughter who have cerebral palsy.
"It was a long road and it involved several people," Haynes said. "Obviously, Michigan Capitol Confidential and the Mackinac Center had a lot to do with getting the word out. The stuff the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News did really helped, too. Then I think the word quietly spread with people talking to other people, letting them know what it was really all about. It took ordinary people like us to bring attention to what was really happening. Otherwise, I don't think the result would have been the same."
Haynes, of Macomb Township, said people needed to hear the real stories of Proposal 4 because the ads in favor of the proposal were so misleading.
"We'd see these TV commercials that really made it look like what they (the SEIU) wanted to do would be beneficial," Haynes said. "We'd talk with everyone we could, family members, friends and others, and tell them what the proposal was really all about.
"We went to a wedding and sat at a table with people we didn't even know," Haynes continued. "They'd seen the commercials and said it (Proposal 4) looked like a good idea. Then we told them about it. One of the people at the table was a retired school bus driver, you know with benefits and all that from the MEA (Michigan Education Association). By the time we got done talking, she said she thought what the union (SEIU) had been doing was ridiculous."
Proposal 4 supporters said the plan would have provided safe, affordable in-home care. In reality, that already exists and did so before the union forced about 44,000 people into the union in a scheme it orchestrated in 2005 when Jennifer Granholm was governor. The Home Help Program, which allows people to stay in their homes instead of having to move into nursing homes, has been around since 1981.
The SEIU's scheme took a percentage of money from the Medicaid checks people like the Haynes receive and sent it to the union as dues. Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law earlier this year making the scheme illegal but a federal judge allowed it to continue. The current contract with the union expires in February and that should spell an end to the unionization scheme.
Richard Nottage, of Kingley, also was forced into the scheme. He agreed to help out his ex-wife after she broke her leg this past spring. He was a home-based caregiver for only a few weeks. Nonetheless, the one Medicaid check he received had dues deducted from it.
"I think the proposal being defeated was a good thing," Nottage said. "Hopefully, it was a big enough defeat to send a message that says: 'Don't do that again.'
“To me, what it (the union) has been doing is just plain unfair," Nottage said. "I only received the one check, but when I saw that the union was collecting dues from it, I thought that it was wrong. It's something that shouldn't be happening. Hopefully it will now get corrected."
Steven Glossop provides care for his mother, Linda, who lives with medical complications following heart surgery and a stroke. Through the Home Help Program, Glossop receives a monthly Medicaid check to help defray the costs involved with the home care.
"I think the fact that this (Proposal 4) was defeated is terrific," Glossop said. "Especially after they (the SEIU) had all of those ads on TV that made it look like something good. It's just great to know that the people of Michigan don't believe everything they see in commercials like those. At some point, they began to understand that if something looks too good, you need to look closer and find out more about it.
"I think this (Proposal 4) being defeated was a great victory," Glossop said. "And you (Capitol Confidential) had a lot to do with making it happen. I'd sit there and see [Ingham County Sheriff] Gene Wigglesworth talking in their (Proposal 4 backers') ad and making it seem so good. But it didn't work for them and I think the fact that it didn't work is just great."
Over the seven years the scheme has existed, the SEIU has taken more than $32 million from the elderly and disabled in Michigan.
While much of that can not be recovered because of the statute of limitations, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation has taken legal action against the SEIU, and has asked the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to decertify the forced unionization and have the SEIU return $3 million to the families.
The Haynes and Glossop families are being represented by MCLF in the case.
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