SEIU Challenges Trump Ban on Payroll Deductions for Home Care Workers

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Service Employees will legally challenge what they term a “racist” Trump administration ban on payroll deductions approved by home care workers, most of them African-American women and Latinas.

The ban, announced May 1 by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) – which is headed by an acolyte of GOP Vice President Mike Pence – says there may be no deductions from the workers’ paychecks for “third parties.”

That means home care workers, whether covered by union contracts or working for other employers, won’t have dues or anything else – from bus pass subsidies to health insurance premiums -- deducted, as of July 1.

The ban would affect thousands of workers, notably those SEIU and other unions organized among the nation’s 800,000-plus home care workers. The home care workers are already among the lowest-paid workers in the U.S., but unionized home care workers earn substantially more.

“Trump administration to home care workers: Here’s your poverty-level wage. Now let us tell you how to spend it,” the union headlined its announcement of their planned lawsuit against Trump’s CMMS and its anti-deductions rule.

“Women who care for seniors and people with disabilities will challenge Trump administration’s racist rule in court and defend their choice to stick together in their union,” SEIU added.

“The rule wrongly targets independent provider home care workers who, without a union, are faced with a physically and emotionally demanding job with a median wage of just $10.49 an hour, no healthcare, no paid sick time and no benefits,” the union said.

The Trump administration’s CMMS rule never mentions the words “union” or “dues” or “checkoff,” a reading of it shows. It just says the workers cannot authorize diverting part of their paychecks to unnamed “third parties.” CMMS said it received several thousand comments on the rule, but didn’t characterize them or recognize opposition from workers and unions.

SEIU says that “diversion” is just a right-wing dodge.

“The rule is the latest strategic attempt by anti-worker special interest groups to silence the growing number of women in the home care workforce and deny them the ability to choose to support their union with their wages” just as other unionists do. “Its intent is to undermine working women’s right to advocate for better training, higher wages, and basic benefits — which are all crucial to ensuring quality home care for millions of Americans.”

“SEIU members plan to challenge this racist rule in court. Ninety percent of home care workers are women, more than 50% are women of color and one in four are immigrants. The administration’s attempt to silence home care workers reflects a long history in the United States of double-standard policies that deny working people of color like home care workers and domestic workers basic legal protections and rights, including protections for minimum wage and overtime pay, and the right to organize and form strong unions.”   

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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Health Care Should Not Be A Bargaining Weapon

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