Michigan: You’re in the union now, like it or not

Imagine — one morning you wake up, and find you’ve been forced to join the United Auto Workers against your will because of a special deal cut your Democratic governor cut to reward the union for its political activity.

That’s the reality for thousands of Michigan day care providers. Some of them are suing.

“I thought it was a joke,” said [Peggy] Mashke, 50, of northern Michigan’s Ogemaw County. “I work out of my home. I’m not an auto worker. How can I become a member of the UAW? I didn’t get it.”

Willing or not, Mashke and 40,000 other at-home providers are members of a labor partnership that represents people across Michigan who watch children from low-income families. Two unions receive 1.15 percent of the state subsidies granted to those providers, or more than $1 million a year.

Mashke has given up about $100 this year, and while she says it’s not a huge amount of money, she’s among a small group of home-based providers suing in federal court to break free from organized labor.

“It’s the principle. It’s my constitutional rights,” she said.

Now, some will note that these day-care providers receive state subsidies and therefore can be subject to certain conditions. But why should union membership be one of them? Why should an economically depressed and nearly bankrupt state like Michigan be using even one dime of public funds or one second of effort to help the governor’s friends — to keep a dying UAW on life support with this new influx of members?

And in the event that the union somehow helps the day care providers get a raise, for example, isn’t this arrangement self-defeating for the state? This, like the Obama administration’s decision to give the UAW privileged status in the auto bailouts, is a great example of Gangster Government, of “to the victor goes the spoils.”

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