Supreme Court: Partial Public Employees Can’t Be Required To Contribute To Unions

The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Harris v. Quinn on Monday, saying partial public employees can’t be required to contribute to unions.

According to SCOTUSblog, the 5-4 ruling is a “substantial obstacle to expanding public employee unions, but it does not gut them.” SCOTUSblog also notes the case does not involve “full-fledge public employees,” but rather says that union bargaining fees cannot be imposed on employees that are not full public employees.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion in the ruling.

HuffPost’s Dave Jamieson reported earlier on why the impending decision had unions terrified:


On its surface, the case deals with home care workers in Illinois who care for the disabled. The plaintiff, Pamela Harris, serves as the caretaker to her son Josh, who suffers from a rare genetic syndrome. The elder Harris receives Medicaid funds to do so and essentially functions as a state employee.

Many state-supported home care workers in Illinois are represented by the union SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana. Under the contract between the union and the state, all home care workers covered under the contract are required to pay a fee to SEIU to cover the expenses associated with bargaining, whether or not they want to be union members.

This arrangement avoids what unions commonly refer to as freeloading — that is, benefiting from the union’s work without helping to underwrite it. Since unions have to represent all the employees in a particular bargaining unit, they commonly seek requirements in their contracts that all workers pay such “fair share” fees.

Below, more from the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says public sector unions can’t collect fees from home health care workers who object to being affiliated with a union.

The justices on Monday said collecting the fees violates the First Amendment rights of workers who are not union members.

The ruling is a financial blow to labor unions that have bolstered their ranks in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of home health care workers.

The case was brought by a group of Illinois in-home care workers who said they didn’t want to pay fees related to collective bargaining. They claimed the “fair share fees” violate their constitutional rights by compelling them to associate with the union.

Lower courts had thrown out the lawsuit.

Read the ruling below:

Harris Et Al. v. Quinn, Governor of Illinois, Et Al by HuffPost Politics

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