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STATE-SUBSIDIZED PERSONAL ASSISTANTS NEED NOT PAY PUBLIC UNION DUES, SUPREME COURT RULES
Ruling Does Not Impact Full-time Public Employees, But Opinion Criticizes Key Public Union-Friendly Precedent

© Krantz News Service, July 1, 2014

The First Amendment prohibits the collection of a union "agency fee" from state-subsidized home care personal assistants who do want to join a union, the Supreme Court ruled in an opinion issued Monday.

The ruling does not apply to "full-fledged public employees," thus limiting the impact to public sector unions; however, the opinion by Justice Samuel Alito does criticize aspects of case law authority supporting mandatory public union agency fee collection. So some commentators say public unions may face a future challenge to the full scope of their current power.

Pam Harris and seven other Illinois care providers Illinois sued over the agency-fee requirement established by Illinois state law. The law had designated SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, as the exclusive union representative for Rehabilitation Program employees.

The Court rejected the state of Illinois' argument that the union should be allowed to collect the agency fee: "If we accepted Illinois' argument, we would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support."

Staff attorneys for the National Right to Work Foundation argued the case as a class action.

"This scheme, which forced parents and other relatives taking care of persons with disabilities into union political association was a slap in the face of fundamental American principles we hold dear," Mark Mix, Foundation president said in a prepared statement. "We applaud these homecare providers' effort to convince the Supreme Court to strike down this constitutionally-dubious scheme, thus freeing thousands of homecare providers from unwanted union control."

The SEIU vowed in a press release to continue to stand up for "quality home care in the wake of" the Court's ruling.

"No court case is going to stand in the way of home care workers coming together to have a strong voice for good jobs and quality home care," said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. "At a time when wages remain stagnant and income inequality is out of control, joining together in a union is the only proven way home care workers have of improving their lives and the lives of the people they care for."

The accompanying chart released by the National Right to Work Foundation shows states where laws "unionize workers who are not state employees, but who indirectly receive state subsidies."

Personal Care Providers
Mandatory Union Dues
California
X
Connecticut
X
Illinois
X
Maryland
X
Massachusetts
X
Michigan
X
Minnesota
X
Missouri
X
New York
X
Ohio
X
Oregon
X
Pennsylvania
Washington
X
Wisconsin
X
Vermont
Childcare Providers
Mandatory Union Dues
Connecticut
X
Illinois
X
Iowa
Kansas
Maryland
X
Massachusetts
X
Maine
Michigan
X
Minnesota
X
New Jersey
New Mexico
X
New York
X
Ohio
X
Oregon
X
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
X
Washington
X
Wisconsin
X





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