A Michigan court ruled that the state branch of the powerful Service Employees International Union does not have to pay back tens of millions of dollars in dues taken from home health care workers who were forced into unionization.
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled last week that the SEIU Healthcare Michigan does not have to pay back more than $34 million in dues collected from over 40,000 home health care workers. Many were forced into the union under state requirements that they join because they were taking care of sick family members at home.
The SEIU successfully lobbied for the plan in multiple states that classified unpaid family members as "home health care workers." Dues were then automatically collected from the care recipients' Medicare or Medicaid checks.
The Court of Appeals ruling was in favor of SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s motion to have the case dismissed because the union had paid back dues to Patricia Haynes and Steven Glossop, who had filed suit demanding dues they were forced to pay be returned. The court noted that Haynes and Glossop were paid back more than they requested in their lawsuit.
The Court of Appeals also said it dismissed the case because the law had changed and “to allow appellants to proceed with this appeal to vindicate the possible interests of third parties would improperly allow them to litigate abstract questions of law in which they are no longer interested parties.”
Officials at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which represented the two, said the overpayment was a devious move by the union in an attempt to hold onto the millions it took from the others.
“The SEIU overpaid our clients to prevent a full review by the court,” Patrick J. Wright, vice president of legal affairs for the Mackinac Center, said in a statement provided to FoxNews.com. “It was pretty obvious the SEIU did not want the court to take a close look at its tactics. Unfortunately, that means the union gets to keep the money it took from the other approximately 39,998 people who were caught up in this scheme. We’re going to review our legal options and look at other possible ways to vindicate all of these victims.”
The ruling comes after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June, that public sector unions in Illinois cannot collect fees from home health care workers who don't want to be part of a union.
The SEIU had sent checks to the Mackinac Center on behalf of Haynes and Glossop after that ruling.
The forced unionization ended in 2013 in Michigan and enrollment in the SEIU’s Michigan chapter plummeted the next year.
According to reports the union filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, over 44,000 home-based health care workers left SEIU Healthcare Michigan after learning they did not have to join the union or pay dues.
The Michigan Court of Appeals also said that the Michigan Employment Relations Commission does not have a platform for allowing class action matters.
Officials for the Mackinac Center say they are still weighing their options.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Ted O’Neil, spokesman for the legal group. “The SEIU wanted to make this go away as quietly as possible. If this had continued in court it would have brought the issue to the public spotlight. It’s also unfortunate because of the statute of limitations there was a limit to what anyone could have gotten back.”
O’Neil noted that despite the fact the SEIU “siphoned” $34 million, in the future it will no longer be able to collect money for “basically doing nothing.”
“Hopefully, that is somewhat comforting to those that were ripped off,” he said.
Officials at SEIU Healthcare Michigan said to FoxNews.com that they did not have a comment immediately available.
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych