WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court Monday issued a landmark ruling in a case over whether Illinois homecare providers can be forced into joining a union.
The case, Harris v. Quinn, is a class-action lawsuit argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys and filed by Pam Harris and seven other Illinois care providers after Gov. Pat Quinn signed an executive order rendering them vulnerable to unwanted union organizing.
Quinn’s executive order mirrored one issued by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which designated more than 20,000 personal care providers as “public employees” solely for the purpose of forcing them into union ranks. Quinn expanded Blagojevich’s directive to cover an additional 4,500 providers who were not included in the original order. The scheme only designated providers as public employees for the purposes of unionization, leaving the homecare recipients as the employers for all other aspects of the providers’ work.
The court’s ruling struck down the scheme, ruling that individuals who indirectly receive state subsidies based on their clientele cannot be forced to pay compulsory union fees. The court’s ruling render unconstitutional similar homecare unionization schemes attempted in at least 18 other states.
For example, a federal lawsuit brought by Minnesota childcare providers subject to a similar scheme has been held pending the outcome of the Harris case.
“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,” stated Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “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.”
“We celebrate knowing that Illinois moms linked arms and refused to be bullied,” lead plaintiff Pam Harris said. “Families in Illinois can relax knowing their homes are safe from being a union workplace and there will be no third party intruding into the care we provide our disabled sons and daughters.”
For information on the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, call (800) 336-3600 or visit the website, www.nrtw.org.
Quinn issued the following statement on the case:
"Today's 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court is disappointing.
"There are thousands of workers who care for our seniors and people with disabilities in Illinois, and they deserve the right to collectively bargain for decent wages, benefits and proper working conditions.
“A high-quality workforce of long-term, in-home care workers gives our most vulnerable citizens the opportunity to live independently in their own homes, instead of forcing them into expensive, long-term care institutions. All people, no matter what their challenges are, deserve the opportunity to choose to live in the community.
"We will continue working to provide quality care for our most vulnerable citizens and we will continue fighting to ensure workers get a fair shake for a hard day's work."