Union Issues Debit Cards as Members Paychecks Minus Dues

Faced with a Trump administration proposal that could ban the government from deducting union dues from members’ pay, the largest U.S. home health care union is trying an unusual workaround:  it’s issuing workers debit card they can use to access their paycheck – minus union dues. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that mandatory union fees are unconstitutional throughout the public sector (where about half of union members work). This new reality means that government unions, while still required to represent all workers covered by a contract regardless of membership, can no longer require non-members to chip in.

While other public sector unions are just now scrambling to adjust to the loss of mandatory fees from non-members, home health-aide unions are bracing for an even more provocative measure:  a rule that could make it much more difficult to collect voluntary dues from members as well.

In July, the Trump Administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a proposed rule restricting states’ ability to send money from Medicaid to “third parties.” I covered it here. Because Medicaid funds the salaries of home health aides, the agency said the rule could shut down the ability of states (which employ home health aides) to deduct about $70 million in annual dues from union members’ paychecks.

To ensure the union keeps receiving member dues without requiring workers to write a check every month, the union is rolling out the aforementioned debit cards. Workers can authorize ADP to deposit their state paychecks onto the card so as to route their dues to the SEIU.

Signing up members for the cards is one facet of a “recommitment” campaign SEIU Local 2015 is mounting this fall in which hundreds of members are hoping to talk to as many as 100,000 co-workers about joining – or remaining in – the union. Such moves are part of a slew of efforts by major public sector unions to strengthen their ties with millions of workers who now, under the June Supreme Court ruling, have the option of forgoing fees.

Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can reach Matt by calling him at (614) 843-3041 or emailing him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.