Why doesn’t Government understand ‘Nothing about us with out us’? ~~ by Joe Markley

Over 20 years ago, I helped to organize an anti-income tax rally at the State Capitol which attracted 65,000 people.

Over the past year, I have drummed up significant taxpayer support in blocking a $1,000-an-inch taxpayer-funded busway from New Britain to Hartford.

And while those fights have been notable among my three decades of public policy fights, there is another lower profile battle that has been most personal to me.

That battle centers on a 49-year-old Manchester woman named Cathy Ludlum, who is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met.

Confined to a wheelchair, Cathy employs 11 Medicaid funded Personal Care Assistants, known as PCAs. Those PCAs care for Cathy because she suffers from a neuromuscular disease that severely limits her movement. Cathy’s team gives her a fantastic quality of life, and with their help she’s lived on her own for 20 years. She lives independently and at lower cost to the state than if she were living in an institution.

Cathy came to me, along with her personal care attendants – one by one – to speak to me about a proposal which would force her personal-care attendants to unionize.

Among Cathy’s concerns:
• This forced unionization would create more paperwork for people in her situation – those who rely on attendants for help with cooking, cleaning, dressing and other daily tasks.
• Neither she, nor her attendants, want to have a union come between them. “We celebrate each other’s successes; we mourn one another’s losses. We work as a team and we function like a family,” she says.
• She is by no means alone. There are 5,000 Connecticut residents in similar situations as Cathy.

When I heard Cathy’s story, I couldn’t see why the state would want to get in the middle of a situation which needed no fixing. Why would government get involved in such a way as to drive a wedge in the personal relationships between an employer and employee?

Yet, that is what will soon start happening when Gov. Malloy signs the forced unionization bill into law. With the stroke of his pen, state government will be able to reach into people’s private lives and private arrangements and turn them upside down. The governor’s executive order which made this vote inevitable ignored the clear will and authority of the legislature. Along with Cathy Ludlum and others, I have filed a lawsuit challenging the executive order, and I have growing confidence that we will prevail.

I’ve done some thinking about why this issue has affected me in such a personal way. I think it boils down to one word: Liberty. Cathy Ludlum and thousands like her will lose their liberty due to this forced unionization effort. They will lose their freedom to choose. They are unionized, like it or not.

And that should give all of us pause.