The U.S. Supreme Court struck a major blow to public unions last week when it decided in favor of a plaintiff who had argued he shouldn’t be forced to pay union dues. The decision had been expected and many local unions had been fervently working with some state legislators to try and counter the short and long-term ramifications of the decision, but the Supreme Court also advised a lower court in Illinois to review whether the union there should reimburse $32 million to individuals who had dues taken out automatically from government paychecks while they cared for family or others as in home care providers.
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had rendered its decision last year, finding in favor of the public unions and their rights to collect these dues, especially given their collective bargaining efforts that have led to increase pay rates and benefits for those caregivers supporting individuals in their homes. These dues are called ‘fair share’ fees and they were collected between 2008 and 2014.
One of the issues at stake in this case was that not all of the 80,000 ‘workers’ had objected to the dues being automatically taken out of their checks and therefore couldn’t be labeled as a ‘class.’ Now the case will be reviewed at some date to be determined.
However, the Supreme Court’s ruling last week dealt a major blow to unions by determining that workers paid by the government (public workers) could not be forced to join those unions or pay fees to them.
According to The Chicago Tribune, in it’s news article, Case over home health care workers’ union feed must be reconsidered, Supreme Court says, written by Lisa Schencker:
“But on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in a case involving Illinois state government worker Mark Janus that government workers can’t be forced to contribute to unions that represent them in collective bargaining. The decision was called a blow to unions and a major victory for labor opponents. The home health care case is to be reconsidered in light of that decision.
The 80,000 workers were employed by individuals with disabilities participating in the state-administered Home Services Program, which helps pay for severely disabled individuals to be cared for at home, rather than in institutions. Many of the workers were relatives of the disabled individuals who were also their caretakers.”
It is unclear how these public unions will respond, but in states like California, legislation has already been passed (and being challenged) that could make it more difficult for these public workers, these caregivers, to learn about their rights and ability to withdraw from paying union fees.