Today is the deadline for groups to submit signatures for statewide ballot initiatives, and one initiative likely to appear on the November ballot is described as a measure to protect senior citizens from financial crimes.
But really it has more to do with a fight between a conservative think tank and a labor union.
Initiative 1501 increases penalties for identity theft and fraud targeting seniors and people with disabilities, but the right-wing group the Freedom Foundation says that’s window dressing.
"It’s the latest step in an ongoing fight over the same issue, and that being whether the state has to disclose to the Freedom Foundation the list of SEIU 775-represented individual providers, or IPs," said Maxford Nelson, director of labor policy for the Freedom Foundation.
Service Employees International Union 775 represents individual providers who get paid through Medicaid to take care of the elderly and people with disabilities in their homes. The Freedom Foundation has been trying to get a list of those providers from the state to be able to contact them and let them know they don’t have to pay union dues in the wake of a Supreme Court decision in the case Harris v. Quinn.
SEIU 775 has been fighting the Freedom Foundation in court over this issue and has lost two rounds. Now the union is trying to use this ballot measure to change the public records law.
Adam Glickman is secretary-treasurer with SEIU 775. He said his members are worried about their personal information being released to outside groups.
"This is a big issue for our members, and they wanted to take action to protect their privacy and the privacy of their clients," Glickman said.
Glickman dismissed the Freedom Foundation as a “radically anti-union organization” intent on destroying the labor movement. His union has so far put about $1.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions toward Initiative 1501.