In July, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Illinois “scheme” by which individual home health care providers had union dues automatically deducted from their state Medicaid reimbursement payments.
In its decision in Harris v. Quinn, the court reasoned that the compulsory payments violated the providers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. As a result of the decision, Illinois providers who resign/never sign up for union membership no longer have to pay any dues to the union.
Individual provider home health care aides in Washington are in a situation very similar to providers in Illinois. Since 2002, the state has automatically deducted union dues from individual providers’ Medicaid payments on behalf of SEIU Local 775. All individual providers in the state fall under the terms of the contract the union negotiates with the state every two years.
However, because of the court’s decision in Harris, SEIU 775 is now directing the state to cease deducting any union dues from individual providers who no longer wish to pay.
Many individual providers may not even realize they are paying dues to SEIU 775. Under state law, even union-represented workers who have never signed up for union membership are governed by the union contract and have full dues automatically deducted from their Medicaid checks.
What do I have to do in order to get the SEIU to stop deducting dues from my Medicaid checks?
Individual providers who wish to opt out of paying dues to support SEIU 775 simply have to complete this letter and mail it to the union.
Will I still be able to receive state Medicaid reimbursements if I opt-out of paying dues to SEIU 775?
Yes. Under state law, the union contract for individual provider is binding on all providers in the state, regardless of whether they want to be union represented and regardless of whether they choose to pay union dues. Opting out of paying dues will in no way affect your ability to receive Medicaid reimbursements from the state.
How much are SEIU Local 775 dues?
According to federal filings, the union’s dues are 3.2 percent of salary per month.
If I stop paying dues to the union, will I still fall under the terms of the contract negotiated with the state?
Yes. SEIU Local 775 has arranged to be the “exclusive bargaining representative” for all individual providers in the state, meaning that it is impossible for providers to get out of the terms of the contract, even if they cease paying dues.
If I stop paying dues, will I still be able to attend the required training for individual providers?
Yes. Under the state’s contract with the union, the state, not the union, funds the training partnership that serves individual providers. Specifically, the contract obligates the state to provide contributions to the partnership that “are sufficient to fully pay for training that is legally required of IPs to maintain qualifications.” All individual providers in the state fall under the terms of the contract.
Can I vote on the union contract if I resign my membership in SEIU Local 775 and stop paying dues?
No. Although the terms of the contract the union negotiates with the state will still apply to you, you will not be able to participate in contract ratification votes.
If I resign from the union and stop paying dues, will I still be able to obtain health insurance through the SEIU Healthcare NW Benefits Trust?
Yes. According to its website, the trust is “a nonprofit entity that operates independently of SEIU and participating employers.” As an individual provider, you are still eligible to purchase insurance through the trust, even if you no longer pay union dues to SEIU Local 775.
What kind of activity/expenses do I support through my SEIU 775 dues?
Each year, the union must file reports with the U.S. Department of Labor documenting its expenditures.
- In just the past two years, the local union has spent $1.2 million on travel and airfare, more than $1 million on hotels, including a nearly $40,000 junket at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and nearly a quarter million on restaurants, including nearly $14,000 spent at an Olympia wine bar and billed as “representational activity.”
- The union has also bankrolled a host of controversial organizations and causes, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership dues to support Democratic candidates and nearly every progressive organization in the state.
- Likewise, the union’s national headquarters, which SEIU 775 members also pay dues to support, spent heavily on Democratic candidates and progressive causes, including $100,000 spent on President Obama’s inauguration and $50,000 contributed to Planned Parenthood.
- SEIU Local 775 president David Rolf received total compensation of $190,596.
- SEIU national president Mary Kay Henry received total compensation of $295,870.
Highlights of some of the more colorful of SEIU 775’s expenditures, as reported in its 2013 LM-2 report, are available here.