By Robert F. Sanchez, JMI Policy Director
Suppose you own a small business. One day an organizer shows up demanding that you join the Chamber of Commerce and fork over a percentage of your gross as “dues.” Absurd? Sure.Yet a similar outrage has occurred in Michigan. There, unions spent heavily to elect sympathetic officials who, in turn, helped engineer a union invasion of the day care business.The result: day-care providers – many of whom care in their homes for a handful of kids from low-income working families – found themselves to be members of a union that the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) jointly formed.Dubbed “Child Care Providers Together Michigan,” the new union demands its pound of flesh: 1.5 percent of the state subsidies each provider receives.The union won the right to represent all providers – whether they wanted it or not – after an election that most were too busy changing diapers and getting toddlers ready for nap time to notice. Only 15 percent cast a ballot.Yet in Michigan and other union fiefdoms, if a union wins a majority of the votes of those participating in a representation election, then membership becomes mandatory for the entire group.Not everyone is pleased. Consider Peggy Mashke. She cares for 12 kids 12 hours a day in her home. So, the Associated Press reports, “she was surprised to get a letter welcoming her to the United Auto Workers union.”As Ms. Mashke puts it, “I thought it was a joke. I work out of my home. I’m not an auto worker. How can I become a member of the UAW?” However, as the AP reports, “Willing or not, Mashke and 40,000 other at-home providers are members…”It’s a lucrative arrangement for Big Labor because, as the AP notes, “the two unions receive 1.15 percent of the state subsidies granted to those providers, or more than $1 million a year.”That’s quite a nice payoff to the union bosses from their political enablers, but it’s sadly symbolic of broader problems. Indeed, Michigan’s business climate has deteriorated so much that Michiganders in record numbers have been fleeing the state, which union bosses have brought to the brink of ruin.