By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Opponents of a public union for personal care attendants are asking Minnesota lawmakers not to ratify a new labor agreement because of fraud allegations.

Personal care attendants (PCAs) voted several years ago to join a public employees union despite fierce opposition from critics who say the election was “rigged.”

Minnesota PCAs voted to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) several years ago. Lawmakers are preparing to ratify the second public employee contract, which includes wage and benefit hikes, but there’s a move at the State Capitol to stop it.

As many as 27,000 personal care attendants in Minnesota care for disabled or elderly clients like Jason DeKrief, who has cerebral palsey. His father, who opposes a union, says none of their PCAs ever got a chance to vote.

“None of them ever received a ballot. None of them were given the opportunity to vote,” Al DeKruif said. “I believe it was a fradulent election. I think they should have the opportunity to vote again.”

Critics of the union are accusing labor organizers of forging signatures, refusing to mail ballots, and improperly charging dues.

“And those problems could amount to fraud,” attorney Doug Seaton said. “They certainly amount to mischief, malfeasance, something that calls into question the original election.”

Union leaders strongly deny any wrongdoing, telling lawmakers those allegations have been thrown out of multiple courts, multiple times.

“The claims against our union are growing more silly and outlandish with time, and their attempts to win support of actual health care workers has failed,” Jamie Gulley of SEIU HealthCare MN said. “The fact remains that health care workers support their union.”

Delores Flynn of Roseville and five PCAs care for her 46-year-old, brain-injured son.

“I think this election was legit,” she said.

Without union pay hikes and benefits, she says all that care could go away.

“You can almost make more at Burger King or McDonalds, and you get benefits,” Flynn said. “There are no benefits here. That’s why I am so in favor of the union.”

Personal care attendants are not required to join the union, and they’re allowed to “opt out” of paying dues.

State lawmakers must now vote to ratify the contract, and a number of them are preparing to vote no.

Comments (2)
  1. Tim Neumann says:

    Union and fraud, who would believe that? Just about any rational person.

  2. This article leaves out a very important fact about the significance of this vote. As far as I can tell, the contract’s new components (higher wages etc.) would require more money for the state’s health and human services appropriation. The state’s final budget is due May 22. So if the subcommittee decides not to approve this contract before May 22, it will gut the contract, even if it decides to approve it later. Under the guise of staying open to the court’s decision, the subcommittee will effectively create a ruling in favor of Doug Seaton et al., i.e. sabotage the new contract. This article suggests the following question: should the labor contract be ratified? Here is a far more pressing question: should the legislative branch be allowed to make a judicial decision? In fact, much of the May 8 session’s controversy centered on this question. See statements by Leon Lillie and Debra Hilstrom, for instance.

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