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SEIU Backstabs California over Stimulus Funds
The Service Employees International Union is well known for representing the interests of illegal aliens. The SEIU contributed more than $33 million to the Obama campaign (see below).
Now the Los Angeles Times reports that the union used its political pull to eliminate billions of dollars slated for California as the state is failing financially. [SEIU may be linked to ultimatum on withholding stimulus funds, May 11, 2009]
Reporting from Sacramento -- Officials in the governor's office say a politically powerful union may have had inappropriate influence over the Obama administration's decision to withhold billions of dollars in federal stimulus money from California if the state does not reverse a scheduled wage cut for the labor group's workers.
The officials say they are particularly troubled that the Service Employees International Union, which lobbied the federal government to step in, was included in a conference call in which state and federal officials reviewed the wage cut and the terms of the stimulus package. [...]
During the call, state officials say, they were asked to defend the $74-million cut scheduled to take effect July 1. The cut lowers the state's maximum contribution to home healthcare workers' pay from $12.10 per hour to $10.10.
The California officials on the call, who requested anonymity for fear of antagonizing the Obama administration, said they needed the savings to help balance the state budget.
The wages go to some 300,000 people who care for the elderly and ill in their homes. Those workers collectively pay millions of dollars in dues each month to SEIU and another union.
SEIU was among the biggest donors to President Obama's campaign, contributing $33 million. The union is also consistently among the biggest donors to Democrats in Sacramento and had aggressively fought the wage cut during state budget negotiations.
Sacramento was trying to save taxpayer dollars by lowering wages -- no good deed goes unpunished.
Sacramento -- Loose oversight and bureaucratic inertia have allowed fraud to fester in a rapidly expanding multibillion-dollar state program that provides personal caregivers to the impoverished elderly and disabled. Hundreds of reports of scams and swindles are going without investigation.
Prosecutors and program administrators across the state say they are alarmed by the ease with which people are taking advantage of the program, In Home Supportive Services.
The program is one of the fastest-growing in state government. This year it is budgeted at $5.42 billion to provide care for some 440,000 Californians. The aim is to allow low- income and elderly incapacitated people to remain in their homes, saving the state the expense of costly nursing homes. Experts generally consider it a success.
But government funds are flowing in so quickly, with such limited oversight, that prosecutors say it is common for the state to send paychecks to scam artists claiming to be caring for someone who is dead. Or claiming to be caring for a relative or friend faking a disability. Or claiming to be providing care during the same hours they are working elsewhere.
"This program is very easy to abuse," said Michael Ramsey, the district attorney in Butte County in Northern California, which disbanded its In Home Supportive Services fraud unit in 2007 because of budget cuts. "It invites chicanery and fraud."
Some critics of the program say politics has blocked efforts to combat fraud. The program has become a steady source of revenue for the Service Employees International Union, among the most powerful interest groups in the Capitol, as well as a second union, the United Domestic Workers of America.
The in-home care program is just the sort of scam that would be attractive to illegal aliens and immigrants, although I can't find any direct investigations of that aspect. However, medical fraud in general is a big draw for foreigners (e.g. Elderly immigrants used in Medicare scam), so it's reasonable to assume they are overrepresented among the in-home care scammers.
So the upshot overall is that the SEIU is happy to screw California out of billions of dollars in order to maintain the wages of a program brimming with fraud that fills the union coffers. Nice people, these diverse union members!