Card Check and Blagojevich, the SEIU Connection

By December 16, 2008Labor Unions

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Blagojevich Planned to Issue Order Benefiting Labor Union “:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was preparing to issue an executive order prior to his arrest last week that would have allowed union organizing of home-care workers that could have benefited a labor union with close ties to the governor.

The existence of this executive order, though never signed, illustrates the close ties between the embattled governor and the powerful Service Employees International Union, the nation’s fastest growing labor organization. Last week, Gov. Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges, including that his office suggested a deal in which he would be given a job with an SEIU-affiliated group in exchange for naming a labor-friendly senator to fill the vacancy left by President-elect Barack Obama.

The executive order would have enabled the SEIU or another union to organize about 1,200 workers in the state who care for developmentally disabled people in their homes and would have augmented one signed by the governor in 2004, said Michelle Ringuette, an SEIU spokeswoman. The prior order opened the way for the SEIU to target a far larger number of home health-care workers. Such workers traditionally are not covered by federal labor law, though a number of states have enacted laws in recent years allowing unions to organize them.

Would Blagojevich’s executive order have allowed organizing via card check as opposed to an employee election conducted via secret ballot? The 2003 executive order governing the bargaining of personal care assistants makes no mention of the process of representation, that is, no mention of election. “Designated by a majority” could certainly embrace card check.

The State shall recognize a representative designated by a majority of the personal assistants as the exclusive representative of all personal assistants, accord said representative all the rights and duties granted such representatives by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, 5 ILCS 315/1 et seq., and engage in collective bargaining with said representative concerning all terms and conditions of employment of personal assistants working under the Homes Services Program that are within the State’s control.

By the way, various arms of the SEIU have contributed $1.1 million $1.36 million in reportable funds to Blagojevich since his first campaign for governor in 2002, a huge amount. You can see the list of contributions here. And the SEIU has certainly put card check on the top of its list of political priorities.

(Note: Reworked the contribution spreadsheet today, now available in .pdf format.) 

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