-By Warner Todd Huston
Several years ago the Governor of Illinois decided with a fiat decision to hand his union buddies millions of free taxpayer dollars by suddenly forcing all private in-home healthcare workers to be unionized without their knowledge or approval. Today the U.S. Supreme Court said that Illinois was not allowed to do this.
The year was 2003 and Democrat Rod Blagojevich–who later went to jail for corruption–was the governor who decided that all Illinois citizens who get a stipend from the state to help them take care of their mentally and/or physically disabled family member must be unionized.
So, Blago wrote an Executive Order that forced all in-home healthcare workers into a union. The Guv unilaterally declared that all these people who got such stipends are suddenly “state workers” and ruled that union dues will then be taken from the already small stipend they get from the state and those “dues” sent directly from the state to the union bank accounts.
Once he got into office, Gov. Pat Quinn also issued an EO that also claimed that such in-home healthcare workers are “state employees” and open to forced unionization.
The state legislature controlled by Democrats backed the Guv up and codified it into law.
This handy-dandy EO handed the Service International Employees Union (SEIU) up to $20 million of new state money right into their pockets. This move, of course, was nothing but a state payoff to unions. The new relationship had no benefit for the workers.
But a few parents of disabled children were not at all pleased to be forced into a union and have some of their already small stipend sent to a union. So, they got together and under the name of one parent, Pam Harris, sued the current Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn, to stop the bleeding of their stipend and the forced unionization.
The case became Harris v Pat Quinn, a case that the U.S. Supreme Court finally spoke to on Monday, June 30.
This new ruling is a more narrow than some anti-union activists had hoped. Some were hopeful that the SCOTUS would out law all forced dues payments from all public employees. But what this decision did was more narrow saying that only these type of workers should be free of union oppression.
Still, this is a victory for anti-union forces and serves to limit the states in whom they declare to be a “state worker” and therefore open to union meddling.
This ruling will affect more than just Illinois, too. Several other states have engaged in this union payoff scheme and they will all now have to revisit their practices.
The Illinois Policy Institute celebrated the decision. Paul Kersey, the Illinois Policy Institute’s Director of Labor Policy, said, “The attempts by Quinn and Blagojevich to unionize Medicaid recipients were motivated by greed and politics, not by an interest in helping Illinois families. Luckily, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the families in Illinois and nationwide who are fighting to take care of their loved one.”
Finally, an important part of this case is that it might open the door to topple the Abood case. That case ruled that non-members of who have state jobs that are unionized were still liable to pay the union’s costs of representing employees (i.e. teachers could not stop paying dues but still expect to share in the benefits the union wins fir them).
Harris maintains that the state cannot forcibly unionize people and then force them to pay the unions fees and other costs—but it only ruled in the case of these particular types of employees, not all employees.
But the case Harris as ruled practically inviting a new suit to be brought in the case of the other sort of employees (such as teachers) forced to pay dues.
The McHenry County Blog also has some excerpts from the ruling.