Forced Unionization concerns addressed in SB731 Sub

Michigan State Senator Jason Allen R-37th Today brought out the revised SB731bill. It addressed the concerns of many that SB731 (“Michigan quality community care council act”) served as a cover for forced unionization of home care workers collecting monies from the State of Michigan. The new version of the bill which passed out of the Senior Citizens & Veterans Affairs Committee this morning is below:

SUBSTITUTE FOR
SENATE BILL NO. 731

A bill to create the Michigan home help advisory council; to prescribe the powers and duties of the council; and to prescribe
the powers and duties of certain state departments.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:
Sec. 1.
(1) This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Michigan home help integrity act”.
(2) It is the intent of the legislature that this public act establish and ensure integrity within the home help program. No part of this act shall be interpreted to allow for the unionization of home help workers. Home help workers are not state employees and are exclusively employed by the home help consumer. All employment decisions regarding a home help worker are to be made only by the home help consumer.

Sec. 2. As used in this act:
(a) “Consumer” means a person receiving personal assistance services as a beneficiary under a medicaid state plan optional program, including, but not limited to, the home help program.
(b) “Consumer advocate” means a person recognized by the 9 department as a representative of consumers and consumer concerns.
(c) “Consumer representative” means a person designated by a consumer to act on behalf of the consumer.
(d) “Council” means the Michigan home help advisory council created in section 3.
(e) “Department” means the department of community health.
(f) “Home help program” means the personal care program or other program established under the personal care option of the state’s medicaid program through which payments are made on behalf of eligible persons to individual providers for personal assistance services, including, but not limited to, the adult home help services payments program under R 400.1101 to R 400.1107 of the Michigan administrative code and any successor program.
(g) “Medicaid” means the program of medical assistance established under title XIX of the social security act, 42 USC 1396 to 1396v, and administered under the social welfare act, 1939 PA 25 280, MCL 400.1 to 400.119b.
(h) “Personal assistance services” means assistance with personal and nonpersonal activities of daily living provided to a consumer with functional limitations in meeting basic needs under the home help program.
(i) “Provider” means an individual who is employed by the consumer with respect to selection, hiring, firing, supervision, direction, and control over the work location and the physical conditions at that location.

Sec. 3.
(1) The Michigan home help advisory council is created in the department of community health.
(2) Neither the department nor the council shall be considered
the employer of a provider of home-based care. All employment
decisions regarding a provider shall be made only by the consumer.

Sec. 4.
(1) The council shall consist of the following members:
(a) The director of the department or his or her designated
representative from within the department.
(b) The director of the department of human services or his or
her designated representative from within that department.
(c) Nine members appointed as provided under subsections (2) and (3) to represent consumers, consumer representatives, consumer advocates, or consortiums. Not less than 1 member appointed under this subdivision shall represent a consortium, if any such consortiums exist. Not less than 7 members of the council shall represent consumers, consumer representatives, or consumer advocates.
(d) One member appointed by the governor from a list of 3 or more individuals selected by the senate majority leader and 1
member appointed by the governor from a list of 3 or more 1 individuals selected by the speaker of the house of representatives.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, council members shall be appointed for a term of 4 years. Initial appointments under subsection (1)(c) shall be made by the director of the department within 56 days of the effective date of this act. Of the board members initially appointed by the director, 1 member shall be appointed for a term expiring on July 31, 2010, 3 members shall be appointed for a term expiring on July 31, 2011, 2 members
shall be appointed for a term expiring on July 31, 2012, and 3
members shall be appointed for a term expiring on July 31, 2013.
(3) After the initial appointments under subsection (2), if a vacancy occurs among the council members described in subsection (1)(c) by expiration of a term, the council shall appoint an individual satisfying the requirements of subsection (1)(c) to a new 6-year term. If a vacancy occurs on the council among the board members described in subsection (1)(c) other than by expiration of a term, the vacancy shall be filled by the council for the remainder of the term of the unexpired term. Council members may continue to serve until a successor is appointed and qualified.

Sec. 5.
(1) Not less than 60 days following the appointment of a majority of the members of the council, the council shall hold its first meeting at a date and time determined by the department director. The council members shall elect from among the council members an individual to serve as chairperson of the council and may elect other officers as the council considers necessary. All officers shall be elected biannually by the council.
(2) The business of the council shall be conducted at a public meeting of the board held in compliance with the open meetings act, 1976 PA 267, MCL 15.261 to 15.275. Public notice of the time, date, and place of the meeting shall be given in the manner required by the open meetings act, 1976 PA 267, MCL 15.261 to 15.275. The council shall adopt bylaws consistent with the open meetings act, 1976 PA 267, MCL 15.261 to 15.275, governing its procedures and the holding of meetings. After organization, the council shall adopt a schedule of regular meetings and adopt a regular meeting date, place, and time. A special meeting of the council may be called by the chairperson of the council or as provided in bylaws adopted by the council. Notice of a special meeting shall be given in the manner required by the open meetings act, 1976 PA 267, MCL 15.261 to 15.275.
(3) A majority of the members of the council serving constitute a quorum for transaction of business. The council shall
17 meet at the call of the chairperson and as may be provided in the bylaws.
(4) The council shall keep a written or printed record of each meeting, which record and any other document or record prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by the council in the performance of an official function shall be made available to the public in compliance with the freedom of information act, 1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246.
(5) Council members shall serve without compensation but may be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred while attending council meetings or performing other authorized official business of the council.

Sec. 6.
(1) The council shall, in cooperation with the department, do all of the following:
(a) Seek to promote and coordinate effective and efficient personal assistance services.
(b) Advise the department regarding the creation and maintenance of 1 or more registries of providers in this state as follows:
(i) Develop and apply standards and procedures for qualifying persons to serve as providers who seek placement on a registry maintained by the council and removal of providers from a registry for cause. These standards and procedures shall include, but are not limited to, a criminal history check conducted in a manner as provided under section 20173a of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.20173a.
(ii) Develop a review process for persons denied a listing on or removed from a registry. Registry membership shall be at the sole discretion of the council.
(iii) Provide lists of available persons listed on a registry, by geographic area or in other accessible form, to consumers upon request and inform consumers, or their representatives, of the background and qualifications of the persons and that the consumers or their representatives are free to select or reject any referrals made through the council.
(c) Espouse, support, and work to preserve consumer selection and self-direction of providers.
(d) Establish support mechanisms for providers aimed at encouraging competence, achieving quality services for consumers, and improving provider retention through improved job satisfaction.
(2) The relationship between the department and its providers shall be consistent with the principles of consumer self-direction, preserving the consumer’s exclusive right to select, direct, and remove a provider who renders personal assistance services to the consumer.
(3) The council may participate with this state in enhancing federal funding for the provision of personal assistance services.

Probably the most important part for those who were concerned with the forced unionization issue, is stated:

“It is the intent of the legislature that this public act establish and ensure integrity within the home help program.  No part of this act shall be interpreted to allow for the unionization of home help workers.  Home help workers are not state employees and are exclusively employed by the home help consumer. All employment decisions regarding a home help worker are to be made only by the home help consumer.”

It clearly sets the tone of intent, and protects those private contractors from having to capitulate to unionization against their will.

Now..  I understand there are many folks out there who have already formed an opinion of Allen based on the original SB731 structure.  I would encourage more constructive activism, and less destructive opining on the issue.  What we are seeing now is the proper response to public pressure and a representative act to fix a poorly crafted original.

Getting the RIGHT legislation through the hoops sometimes takes more than a single leap.  There may be more fixes to make in the future, but rather than climb those steps 40 at a time and fall, we should perhaps take just a couple, applaud this corrective action, and encourage more of it.

I will post more on this as it becomes available.

2 comments for “Forced Unionization concerns addressed in SB731 Sub

  1. May 27, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    These workers were “forced to unionize” like the majority of Americans were forced to accept George W. Bush as the President in 2000. What’s funny was the stealth way this was passed this morning. The good news is it will get no farther than the Senate. No one was forced to unionize. It’s funny, Republicans can’t win an election, and they can’t win in the courts so this is what they have to do to kill unions and force wages and benefits down.

    • jgillman
      May 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      Wow.. really?

      You make those kind of comparisons? So in your mind, the fact that the workers had NO CHOICE whether they were in a union doesn’t matter.. You probably think people should be forced to work for certain businesses too? In fact.. my guess is you must like slavery as well. Huh.. go figure.

      No surprise.. not from someone as “progressive ” as you.

      Funny how even the word progressive is as backward as your “stated” desired results as your actions are to reality. Your thinking is the reason this country has problems. Worms have a better understanding of how to make things grow.

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