Proposal 4: Home health care workers

Keagan Heffner, Edwin Ochoa, & Jessica Carlson
ThunderHawk Staff Writers

Proposal 4 is on the ballot for the election that will take place on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.  The proposal would establish the Michigan Quality Home Care Council in the state constitution.

The proposal would:
·        Let home health care workers unionize.
·        Allow home health care workers collective bargaining rights with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council.
·        Make the Michigan Quality Home Care Council train at no cost all home health care workers and write a registry where all workers would list criminal background checks.
·        Provide financial aid to patients that have a home health care worker come into their home.
·        It would allow patients to hire home health care workers that are listed in the registry that are members.
·        Make all the standards for minimum wages and all conditions that go along with their employment.

Those in support of the proposal include Dohn Hoyle, Campaign Treasurer for the Service Employees International Union along with the Michigan Disability Rights Council.

“It promotes greater safety and security, it gives our loved ones more choices and, by easing the process of finding a home care provider, it ultimately saves money for them and for our tax payers,” Mr. Hoyle said.

Those that oppose the proposal 4 include the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution and Governor Rick Snyder.  The reason they are not in favor of this proposal is because earlier in the year the state government outlawed the collection of union dues for home health care workers who did not have a choice in electing to join the union.  All of groups listed above say they are in favor of improving home health care but, they don’t think that unionizing the home health care workers is they way to make that happen in the State of Michigan.

“Improving health care in Michigan is important, and I’m taking steps in partnership with the legislature, health care providers and insurers to improve wellness in Michigan,” Governor Snyder said.  “Proposal 4, though, is not the right way to improve health care and will be bad medicine for the people in Michigan.”

One family who has been directly impacted by the issue with union dues are Robert and Patricia Haynes.  The Haynes provide home-based care through the Federal Home Help Program to care for their two adult children who both have Cerebral Palsy. In an article that the couple wrote, they described the negative effects of the proposal and how it’s somewhat trickery.

“The ballot is such an offensive and greedy ploy,” they wrote.

The reason they said this is because many Michigan residents, health problems have forced them to turn to their family members for care. This turns those family members into home-based caregivers. The caretakers would never have wanted this for their loved ones but it is a responsibility that they wouldn’t refuse. It is their duty to care for their family members. With this, the proposal would require home care givers to pay dues to the SEIU (Services Employees International Union). even though they do not receive union protection or benefits.  According to Patricia and Robert, these new “state employees” don’t receive the same civil service protections as other state employees would.

“Proposal four shamelessly victimizes family members for stepping up to do the exact thing most people go to bed each night praying they will never have to do,” they said in their opinion.

Local voices gave a variety of answers regarding this proposal.

Jim Stuart, a senior living at Holland, said he believes people should vote yes on Proposal 4 because it’s safer for everyone in the community if an in-home care worker get background checks.

“Although many workers would bargain for more money for however long they work,” he said, “it is still safer.”

Barbara Johnson a senior citizen living in Hamilton will be voting against proposal 4 because all she needs is someone to help take care of her and her husband. Although she does worry about in-home care workers not having background checks she still trust the people that get hired and all she cares is about her health and her husbands health.

Home care worker Mandy Jones said that she isn’t for or against proposal 4, but what she does say is that home caring is a very hard work that deserves a lot of credit and that no matter what, it’s always about the safety of the elderly. She also said that nursing homes should get a lot of credit because there are people working 24/7 to keep the elderly safe.

Valley Township resident Sue Heffner is opposed to Proposal 4.

“I don’t agree with unionization of the home healthcare workers and the rights to collectively bargain,” said said. “If you have chosen the home healthcare field as your occupation that you do that knowing the pros and the cons of that particular position. Do I think that providing safe and top notch healthcare is important to those that are cared for in their homes?  Absolutely!  However, collecting dues from membership does not progress the standards.  It only allows members to work to a minimum standard.  There is a lot to be said for having pride in yourself to do a great job and have care and commitment to each and every person you serve.  If that is not the basis for your work, find something else that your passionate about and do it; it’s your choice.”

Election Day is November 6, so vote for what you believe is right and whether Proposal 4 should be passed or not.



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