Skip to comments.Supreme Court to consider ‘kill shot’ on public sector unions
Posted on 06/28/2014 10:59:30 AM PDT by jazusamo
The Supreme Court will make its most important ruling in labor law in decades next week when it weighs in on a right-to-work case that could determine whether non-union workers can be compelled to pay public sector union dues.
Courts for years have recognized the rights of unions to ask non-members to pay dues for union negotiating costs, but a group of home healthcare workers in Harris vs. Quinn are challenging dues they pay to a branch of the Service Employees International Union as a violation of free speech.
The case is pitting business groups and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation against labor giants like the SEIU, which worry the court could rule broadly to prevent all non-members of public sector unions from being compelled to pay dues. Such a decision from the court, which is expected to rule on Monday, could deliver a kill shot to organized labor at a time when it is already struggling with a declining membership.
Still, some labor supporters say theyre anticipating a loss.
I expect the worst, said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the progressive Economic Policy Institute.
The case was brought by Pamela Harris, who receives money from the state of Illinois to take care of her son.
Workers like Harris were once seen as independent contractors, but Illinoiss legislature in 2003 passed a law deeming them public employees. This forced people like Harris to have fees from their Medicare checks withheld as payment to the SEIU, which had the responsibility of representing all workers who were subject to the 2003 law.
Harris and others are arguing this represents a violation of their free speech. They say the state law compelled them to be represented by a union and to pay fees.
That's a huge injustice to force people to pay dues to a union that they want nothing to do with, said Patrick Semmens, spokesman for the National Right to Work (NRTW) Legal Defense Fund.
A ruling that just affects the Illinois home workers might have a modest impact on labor law, but a broader ruling that prevents public sector unions from collecting dues from non-members could take millions of dollars out of their coffers.
We're concerned, but it's certainly not going to stop workers from coming together with their unions and fighting to improve their jobs and the quality of public services, said Judy Scott, general counsel at SEIU, which is a defendant in the case.
Eisenbrey argues the case is part of an effort by big business to further weaken unions.
It's part of a corporate campaign to weaken or kill unions wherever they can, however they can, Eisenbrey said. It's a complete attack on all of the improvements in labor standards that have been made over the last 50, 60 years.
Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia could prove to be the swing vote, experts say.
In a 1991 Supreme Court case, Scalia argued it is reasonable for unions to collect fees from non-union members to cover their negotiating costs. Then, during oral arguments for Harris vs. Quinn in January, Scalia's questions led some believe he is leaning in this direction once again.
Eisenbrey called Scalia the hope.
In this case, Scalia may actually end up being a swing vote who actually sides with the more liberal members of the court and, of course, workers, said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
Public sector unions should be totally abolished. Period. And those in the private sectors must be stripped of their power. The RICO laws should be vigorously applied to bring the extortion rackets of unions to their knees. American prosperity will reach unprecedented heights when union thugs are neutralized. Red China then return to being a third-world backwater.
Anybody else see something wrong here?
Let’s hope for a broad ruling.
This appears to be the “Workers” against the “People”. This is forcing taxpayers to fund unions whether they want to or not. Scalia sides with the unions on this one I give up and will fully acknowledge that this is not an aristocracy and we the people are the peasants who keep them rolling in dough.
that should be IS an artistocracy
I think you should be able to force people to pay you money to keep their job and then use that money to support legislation and public policy initiatives which are directly against that persons self interest.
I would be sad too, if I lived in a country where that was not allowed. /s
>> Public sector unions should be totally abolished
Exactly. It’s a form of extortion against the taxpayers.
I’m not necessarily against unions in the private sector. And I say that as a non-union, independent contractor that doesn’t care for unions much at all.
I doubt the SCOTUS does it, but I sure hope so
Good posts from Pamela Harris herself at the source article.
I’ve questioned that also. If you take public funds, you take the bs that comes with it. I don’t think these folks should be forced into a union, and I also don’t think these folks should be receiving money they didn’t earn.
Ok Supreme Court calm your breathing and take the shot!
Couldn’t agree more.
Public sector workers are paid with taxpayer money and in most cases are civil service workers, their rights are protected without having union representation.
Oh, happy day!
Sure. That social security check from the government could be construed as income to take care of persons in any household. The union then claims the recipient of any check from the government is an employee who can be forced to join the union and have dues taken from payment checks. Rotten and corrupt.
Amen...If SCOTUS comes down on Monday for Harris and Hobby Lobby it will be a great thing.
Just as the first amendment freedom of religion incorporates freedom from religion (in that no one can be forced to support a religion against their wishes), the first amendment also enshrines the freedom of association, which again, incorporates freedom from association.
If a person does not wish to be a member of a union, they should not be forced by anyone to be a member of a union.
Thanks for the heads up, proxy_user.
Pam Harris’ comments after the article are well worth the read.
I use a different ID on Disqus, but you might just be able to pick me out....