Peggy Mashke tends to 12 children for 12 hours a day at her home, so she was surprised to get a letter welcoming her to the United Auto Workers union.
“I thought it was a joke,” said 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.
A fear that the “stealth unionization” of home-based day care workers could just be the start of a bigger effort was acknowledged in court on Tuesday by a union lawyer.
Patrick Wright, senior legal counsel for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, had said months ago that doctors that accept Medicaid, grocers that take food stamps and landlords that take housing assistance could be the next groups targeted in state efforts to unionize anyone who gets state subsidies.
"We don't care if you want to be in the union, we want your money and we'll take it."