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Medicaid Officials Target Home Health Aides’ Union Dues

Enlarge this imageCashiers, cooks, delivery men and women, fast-food personnel as well as their supporters rallied outside the house New york city Hall in 2017. Their influential union, the A sistance Workers International Union, also incorporates about 50 percent 1,000,000 dwelling wellne s aides.Pacific Pre s/LightRocket/Getty Imageshide captiontoggle captionPacific Pre s/LightRocket/Getty ImagesCashiers, cooks, delivery men and women, fast-food employees as well as their supporters rallied outside New york city Hall in 2017. Their influential union, the Company Workforce International Union, also includes about fifty percent a million dwelling wellbeing aides.Pacific Pre s/LightRocket/Getty ImagesMedicaid dwelling treatment aides hourly workers who a sist elderly and disabled persons with every day jobs like consuming, getting dre sed and bathing are rising as being the most recent focus on inside the ongoing power struggle amongst some conservative lawmakers and arranged labor. About half a million of such residence workers belong into the Company Personnel International Union, a public-sector union that represents just about one.nine million personnel while in the United states of america and Canada. The union can be an influential donor to some Democratic strategies and boasted powerful ties to your Obama administration.Countrywide Mi souri Blocks Right-To-Work Regulation A rule proposed a short while ago by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, under the Trump administration, would prohibit house wellne s aides who are paid directly by Medicaid from having their union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks, though it doesn’t name these fees explicitly. Some academics who study unions say blocking these direct Medicaid payments would mean the staff especially those who don’t perform in a single, centralized office, or don’t have a credit card or a bank account would be far le s likely to pay dues, thereby potentially diminishing the union’s influence. CMS’ language affects only “individual providers” that is, those who aren’t employed with the private, for-profit agencies that dominate this industry. Individual providers, who are technically state employees, are far more likely to be members of a union than employees of the agencies are. The directive would overturn an Obama administration policy that was put in place to ease the collection of union dues and pay for other fees, such as health and fitne s benefits. The rule is subject to community comment through Aug. 13; once finalized, it could take effect because of the end of this year. The month-long comment period, which began July 12, has attracted more than one,800 responses. Regulation Supreme Court Deals Blow To Government Unions “This is just another way to make life more difficult for public-sector unions,” says Jake Rosenfeld, an a sociate profe sor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, who studies unions and their influence. The proposed rule comes Iman Shumpert Jersey on the heels of June’s landmark Supreme Court ruling, in which a 5-4 majority held that public-sector personnel don’t have to pay unions for the cost of collective bargaining, calling it a violation of the workers’ free speech.Law Is It Fair To Have To Pay Fees To A Union You Don’t Agree With? That decision expanded on the Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling in Harris v. Quinn, in which the high court found that house care workers must explicitly state their desire to be in a union before the organization can collect dues. But because these workers are not attached to a single office or meeting point, organizing them into a collective unit poses a distinct challenge; collecting membership dues, even more so. As union membership has waned in other sectors, arranged labor has doubled down in its recruiting efforts within the dwelling treatment industry, lobbying Democratic governors to declare thousands of personnel state staff; that status makes the employees eligible to organize and engage in collective bargaining. The median annual salary for residence wellbeing aides in 2017 was $23,100, with about 67 percent turnover in 2017. The federal Bureau for Labor Statistics projects that demand for household treatment will increase by as much as 41 percent from 2016 to 2026, since the percentage of elderly Americans grows. Both SEIU and the Countrywide Employment Law Project, a union-backed advocacy group, say that if the proposed rule takes effect they expect to file a lawsuit seeking to reverse the decision. And a spokesperson for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has frequently clashed with the Trump administration, says the state will “take any action nece sary” to blunt the rule’s impact. In states where household treatment workers are unionized, the employees can have the state withhold membership fees from paychecks and transfer that money directly on the union. Employees must actively choose to join the union. In California, where most household treatment employees don’t work for private agencies, about 250,000 belong into the state SEIU chapter. If the rule holds, these employees “will effectively lose their voice on the job and their ability to advocate,” says Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU Local 2015, the California branch of the union.NPR Ed Behind The Campaign To Get Teachers To Leave Their UnionsHome treatment aides have unionized in other states, too, including Connecticut, Ma sachusetts, Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Melody Benjamin, a 38-year-old home care worker in Chicago, says for her, the benefit of belonging on the union and having her dues automatically withheld from her paycheck seems clear. She still makes le s than $20,000 per year and lives paycheck to paycheck. But under the union her wages have gone up, she says from $11.25 eight years ago to $13 now. The union also has negotiated additional benefits such as wellne s insurance and job-training cla ses for household treatment employees, and Benjamin sees that as valuable. “At the end of the day, this program is vital,” she says. “The only platform residence treatment personnel have that speaks out for us is SEIU. Ain’t nobody else giving us a platform where we can bargain for fair wages and benefits.” In contrast, the federal government is arguing that U.S. regulation does not allow states to divert Medicaid payments in this way. “The law provides that Medicaid providers must be paid directly and cannot have part of their payments diverted to third parties, exterior of a few very specific exceptions,” says Tim Hill, acting director for CMS’ Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. Supporters of the proposed rule, such because the National Federation of Independent Busine ses, argue the proposed rule would stop powerful unions from using taxpayer dollars to pad their lobbying budget. But that’s a controversial interpretation. Critics of the rule say such a policy would leave vulnerable staff arguably, the backbone of elderly care during the U.S. le s able to defend their rights or improve working conditions. Plus, these critics say, CMS’ argument inappropriately casts workers’ paychecks as government property. “When a state pays a worker, and the worker pays the union, it’s the worker’s money going into the union,” says Benjamin Sachs, a profe sor at Harvard Legislation School who studies labor law. “CMS doesn’t have the authority to decide.” Melody Benjamin says paying union dues, which she wants to do, would become substantially more onerous for her without automatic deduction and would make it harder for the organization to operate on a day-to-day basis. “How about they suggest I pay my state taxes and federal taxes by mail?” she says. “You can’t sustain it like that.” Some conservatives who back the proposed rule suggest that limiting union membership is le s about trying to shape household care policy and more about curtailing a powerful liberal lobbying force. “There have been steps taken in underlying regulation and practice to provide extra favors to general public sector unions,” argues Thomas Miller, a resident fellow studying wellbeing treatment policy at the American Enterprise Institute. “They are as much political bodies as they are representatives.” Labor advocates warn the consequences of the proposed rule could be steep, and not just for house treatment staff. Surveys from the Countrywide Employment Law Project say unionized home treatment staff stay in their jobs longer when represented by unions in part because they’re able to negotiate better pay and benefits. And that continuity of care helps patients, too, says Caitlin Connolly, who runs the Nationwide Employment Regulation Project’s campaign to increase wages of residence care personnel. “The shortages and turnover we are facing it is not rocket science what is causing that,” Connolly says. “If we made these quality jobs, we would be able to ensure that individuals had acce s to quality treatment.” The nonprofit newsroom Kaiser Wellne s News is surely an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Shefali Luthra covers wellne s treatment for KHN. She’s on Twitter @shefalil.

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