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Some Public Union Employees Don’t Have To Pay Dues

From an outraged National Journal:

The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Devastating Blow to Public Unions

By Sam Baker and Emma Roller | June 30, 2014

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on Monday that mandatory public union dues violate members’ First Amendment rights.

In the ruling on Harris v. Quinn, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the precedent that had upheld the state of Illinois’ right to require membership dues was shaky.

The issue at hand in Harris v. Quinn involves Pamela Harris, a home caregiver in Illinois who takes care of her disabled son. Harris is among home caregivers who have decided not to unionize through the Service Employees International Union, opting instead to bargain directly with the Medicaid recipients who decide how much money to allocate to their caregivers.

The SEIU was trying to force parents to be in a union to take care of their own child.

The case posed a challenge to so-called "fair-play fees," which allow unions to collect dues from employees who aren’t in the union but who still benefit from the bargains unions strike with employers.

In the case of public-sector unions, though, the employer is the government. And for that reason, the challengers in Harris argued, the unions’ collective bargaining is inherently a political activity—they’re essentially lobbying the government.

The challengers said allowing public-sector unions to collect fair-play fees is therefore requiring non-union employees to support political activities they don’t necessarily agree with—a violation of their First Amendment rights…

However, there may be one silver lining for public unions. The Harris v. Quinn ruling is somewhat narrowly tailored to home caregivers, known as PAs.

"PAs are much different from public employees," Alito wrote. "Unlike full-fledged public employees, PAs are almost entirely answerable to the customers and not to the State, do not enjoy most of the rights and benefits that inure to state employees, and are not indemnified by the State for claims against them arising from actions taken during the course of their employment. Even the scope of collective bargaining on their behalf is sharply limited." …

In other words, public sector unions can’t require dues from employees who are directly answerable to their customers rather than the state. Like an in-home care-giver.

So this ruling will affect almost nobody.

The Harris decision is more than just another instance of union setbacks, though. It’s also yet another win for conservatives who have been trying to use the First Amendment to push their causes.

How dare they!

From campaign finance law (Citizens United) to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate (Hobby Lobby), the First Amendment has become the GOP’s ironclad defense against government regulations. The Harris v. Quinn ruling just added another plate to the GOP’s armor.

Actually, at worst this ruling might take away a tiny bit of the dues money that the public sector unions giver to Democrats. But the National Journal would never put it that way. It has to be the end of the world.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, June 30th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Some Public Union Employees Don’t Have To Pay Dues”

  1. canary

    Is it true Obama created and appointed a Union deptartment with czars?

  2. yadayada

    baby steps. keep pushing and hopefully, one day, SCOTUS may find that unions can’t force their members to give $$ to dems against their will.


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