By Jana Benscoter | Watchdog Arena
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf won’t call a spade a spade. In addition to a secret ballot recently sent to the homes of over 20,000 Pennsylvania home healthcare workers, the same citizens received a follow-up mailer that encourages them to vote in favor of establishing a union.
Wolf’s word choices aren’t falling on deaf ears, as he pretends to ignore an obvious stealth code established between himself and unions. The code is in reference to a February executive order he signed, which would enable the workers to unionize.
The mailer was peppered with images and words of “togetherness.” Unlike the former secret ballot that provided a yes and no response in English and Spanish, the weekend mailer provided only one response.
“I hereby authorize my employer and/or any payroll processing agent performing financial management services for my employer to deduct each month from my wages and salary my membership dues in the amount of 2% of my earnings and to remit all such deductions to United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania (UHWP), a joint partnership of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, 1199C/NUHHCE, and AFSCME Council 33, at its principal office as designated by UHWP. This authorization may be revoked by me at any time, by written notice to my employer or its payroll agent and UHWP.”
“These mailers cannot be misconstrued: the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania, a proxy of the SEIU and AFSCME, is trying to unionize more than 20,000 home care workers through an election happening now,” said Nathan Benefield, vice president of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Does the union have it wrong or is the Wolf administration deliberately misleading the public to advance causes favored by some of his top political contributors?”
According to the mailer, “Across the country, more than 600,000 home care workers have formed unions to make improvements – winning better wages, affordable health care, paid-time-off, training and respect for our profession. Home care workers in Minnesota voted to form their union in August 2014. This January, they won five paid days off – they had none before – and an increase in their minimum wage from $6.15 an hour to $11 an hour. Vermont’s home care workers joined together in 2013 and in July 2014 won a 40 percent raise in their minimum wage. Illinois home care workers won affordable health care in 2009 by using their union voice to establish dedicated state funding for workers’ health insurance.”
The research printed on the mailer does not provide any source as to where the information came from.
After the secret ballot was leaked to the public, Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan continued to confidently deny any wrongdoing. The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette wrote:
Republicans and union foes say the representation ballot being circulated to Pennsylvania’s independent home-care workers looks a lot like an organizing “ambush” on the part of labor.
But Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says that’s not so.
“It’s not a union ballot,” said Jeff Sheridan, spokesman for Mr. Wolf. “It’s just not. They’re wrong.”
The Commonwealth Foundation, a Pennsylvania free-market think tank, has been watching Wolf’s close relationship with unions. The nonprofit has posted a link to its website detailing the campaign contributions Wolf collected, which easily sailed him into office during the 2014 gubernatorial campaign. While this is not an a final vote to establish a union, the Commonwealth Foundation says it’s a financial power grab.
“In the face of all this evidence, it’s stunning that the Wolf administration continues to deny reality,” Benefield said. “Despite advocating for openness and transparency, the Wolf administration is doing its best to pull the wool over our eyes to reward a campaign contributor.”
Benefield added: “This truly is politics at its worst. It’s telling that in the same mailer asking for votes, the union requests automatic payroll deductions from home care workers’ salaries. These workers are paid through Medicaid, meaning millions of public dollars intended for the care of disabled Pennsylvanians would be skimmed from paychecks and sent to union leaders if the vote is successful. This is about Gov. Wolf rewarding his campaign contributors with a stealth unionization scheme that will net them millions in additional union dues.”
This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.
Jana has worked in journalism for more than a decade, during which she’s covered topics, including: business, education, local and state government, and political corruption. Jana has been published in The Boston Globe, The Daily Caller, Drexel Alumni Magazine, Carolina Journal, Guilford Woman Magazine, The Harrisburg-Patriot News, The High Point Enterprise, Kinston Free Press, Lincoln Tribune Online, the Rhinoceros Times, and others. Find her on Twitter: @jbenz51.