Posted 2 weeks ago on July 11, 2014, 8:58 a.m. EST by GirlFriday
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Unions were bracing for the worst: a Supreme Court decision that could have created a national “right to work” policy for the entire public sector.
That didn’t happen. The court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn this morning was narrower.
But it will still be a hard hit on the unions that have staked their futures on unionizing the rapidly growing home care sector, notably AFSCME and the Service Employees (SEIU).
Home care workers care for elderly and disabled patients. Some are placed through state agencies, while others care for their own relatives. Either way, getting the care at home keeps people out of nursing homes and other costly institutions.
The ruling creates a new gray area, finding that Illinois's 26,000 home care workers are not fully public sector. The court designated them “quasi-public employees” and ruled that unions cannot force them to pay dues or an agency fee.
Their logic is that home care workers are dually employed—by their clients and by the state, through Medicaid funds. While the client has the ability to hire and fire home care workers, the state determines their pay, benefits, and other aspects of their work.
This move could affect similarly organized and funded home care and childcare workers in other states too. There are 1.8 million home care workers in the U.S. already, and labor statistics forecast their ranks will pass 3 million by 2020. ‘An Obsession with Dues’
The justices who make up the court’s conservative majority clearly don’t like the idea of workers having to pay dues at all. It appears they decided to rule narrowly this time, but set the stage for future challenges to dues requirements in the rest of the public sector.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which funded the lawsuit by eight Illinois home care workers, is pushing to do through the courts the same thing anti-union elected officials have been pushing legislatively, as in Wisconsin and Indiana: cut unions off at the knees by limiting their ability to raise money from the workers they represent.
“Conservative forces are using ‘right to work' [tactics] as an opportunity to attack unions in general,” said labor attorney and negotiator Joe Burns, author of Strike Back: Using the Militant Tactics of Labor’s Past to Reignite Public Sector Unionism Today. “Conservatives have an obsession with dues.”
Read the rest here: http://www.labornotes.org/2014/06/supreme-court-deals-blow-home-care-workers