California is among five states that are taking the federal government to task in a lawsuit regarding a rule change within the Center for Medicaid and Medicaid Services (CMS). The rule change effectively bans unions from automatically deducting dues from members who receive payments directly through Medicaid, most commonly family members reimbursed for support they offer seniors or disabled adults.
According to union representatives, this rule change will make it harder for members to pay dues. It’s unclear how that’s the case, especially if these same workers pay other bills on their own. This rule doesn’t impact any other union memberships and dues paid in other ways, but only those who receive Medicaid reimbursements directly to their local state systems.
A spokesperson for CMS declined comment, stating that the agency had not yet received information about the lawsuit yet. However, Jack Cheevers did announce in a previous statement that “nothing in this rule would interfere with an employer’s ability to make payroll deductions that are required by law or voluntary deductions for things like health and life insurance … and union dues.”
Modern Healthcare noted in its news blog, California sues U.S. over home health worker union dues, written by the Associated Press:
“In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled union dues for home health care workers had to be voluntary, meaning unions could not deduct dues from employees who were not members yet were still covered under the collective bargaining agreement. That same year, former President Barack Obama’s administration issued a ruling clarifying states could deduct dues from paychecks of home health care workers who volunteered to join the union.
The Trump administration reversed that rule, arguing it violated federal law that bans states from diverting Medicaid money to third parties, with some exceptions. But Becerra and union leaders said it is designed to weaken the finances of unions by making it harder for people to pay their dues.”
According to April Verette, president of SEIU Local 2015, “It is a shameful political attack on home care providers who are largely women and people of color.” It is unclear how this rule change is a political attack considering that these same home care providers can pay union membership dues directly.
The main focus of this rule change is in response to repeated pressure from the unions in various states who automatically enroll home care workers, many of whom are family members, in their rolls and then automatically deduct dues from their paychecks.
The five states that have filed this lawsuit include California, Washington, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon.