SCOTUS throws partial victory at unions

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Another Supreme Court ruling was something of a draw for unions. A group of home healthcare workers in Illinois argued they shouldn’t have to pay a cost sharing fee if they aren’t a member of the union, and the court agreed. But Unions dodged a bullet. Lisa Madigan is the attorney general for Illinois.

“Today’s decision from the court is a very narrow one. It does not change Illinois’ program. The court, in essence, ruled that home healthcare workers who choose not to join their union will no longer have to pay their share fees, but the decision allows the union to continue to be the exclusive representative of these home healthcare workers.”

Madigan and others on a phone conference following Monday’s ruling couldn’t say what impact the decision would have. But union leaders were concerned a ruling striking down the ability to charge share fees would be a fatal blow. They’d have to raise dues for members which would lead to fewer members which would lead to higher dues and so on and so on. That’s not the case now though, because the court left in tact state laws that require non-members to pay a fee. But Rahnee Patrick, a disabled Chicagoan and consumer of home healthcare is still worried.

“The decision threatens the stability for my personal assistant so they can pay their own bills, care for their families and get raises and insurance. This threat threatens my ability to find reliable workers who can stay with me for as long as they are willing. I worry that today’s decision will dilute the small but growing group of people who respect and assist me to achieve my right to live in the community in my own home with my spouse.”

The court differentiated the home healthcare workers from other public employees like firefighters and police officers saying that the healthcare workers aren’t full fledged public employees. Illinois is one of 26 states that require union fees from non-members.