Personal Care Attendants in Final Push to Decertify Union

MNPCA, a coalition of PCAs who care for disabled family members, has been pursuing a special election to decertify the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for almost a year and a half.

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Dayton
Image Credit: Preya Samsundar/Alpha News

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Home-based personal care attendants (PCAs) who want a new union election are in the final push of their decertification campaign.

MNPCA, a coalition of PCAs who care for disabled family members, has been pursuing a special election to decertify the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for almost a year and a half. In September, MNPCA hand delivered over 10,000 election cards to Gov. Mark Dayton’s office, demanding a new election. More recently, MNPCA has had two court hearings of significance.

Back in April, the Bureau of Mediation Services dismissed MNPCA’s election request. MNPCA appealed the decision and on October 19 the Minnesota Court of Appeals heard MNPCA’s oral argument for reversing the dismissal of their election petition. The panel of three judges is expected to make a decision by the end of January 2018.

“The Appeals Court hearing was from our appeal that the original dismissal of our petition should be overruled,” MNPCA Attorney Doug Seaton told Alpha News. “We were very pleased with the way it went, and we felt very good about our argument. We are very hopeful that we will get a decision that overturns the BMS and reinstates our original appeal.”

Shortly after the Appeals Court hearing, Ramsey County Court heard MNPCA’s final argument in the case from fall of 2016 demanding the Dayton administration release up-to-date lists of PCAs in the bargaining unit so MNPCA could notify caregivers about the campaign to remove the SEIU. Ramsey County Judge Robert A. Awsumb’s preliminary decisions were in MNPCA’s favor, and Seaton is hopeful the final decision follows the trend of the previous decisions.

“We thought that argument went very well too,” Seaton said. “Given that the judge’s preliminary decisions were in our favor and have been sustained, we believe it is unlikely that he will retreat from that.”

If Judge Awsumb makes his earlier decisions on the violations permanent, MNPCA could be eligible to have their attorneys’ fees recovered. Seaton is hopeful the Court also considers some kind of chaperoning of the Bureau of Mediation Services, Department of Human Services, and Minnesota Management and Budget to keep the agencies from interfering in the decertification efforts. A ruling in the case could come this month.

Seaton says it is now a waiting game for PCAs hoping to get rid of the SEIU.

“We will continue to receive cards, but we are not making any big efforts to collect them because we think by any measure we ought to have enough now,” Seaton said. “Since we already have all the cards in, we think that, if we are predicting correctly that we should prevail, we are going to have an election in early 2018.”

“PCAs certainly deserve to make their own choice on whether they want to keep this SEIU representation,” Seaton added. “We are poised to win, and we certainly think we should and will.”

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