Skip to comments.Unions Putting the Squeeze on Home Health Care Workers
Posted on 07/19/2014 11:09:39 AM PDT by Kaslin
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) likes to present itself as the champion of the little guy. But officials of SEIU Healthcarethe fastest-growing union of healthcare, child care, home care and nursing home workers in the Midwestarent averse to a little high-living.
For example, in FY 2013 officials of SEIUs Illinois-Indiana healthcare division (SEIU-HCII) chalked up more than $1.1 million in travel expenses$13,000 of it on D.C. hotel expenses rung up at President Obamas second inaugural.
The union designated all that travel as representation activity. Also claimed as a representation expense: a $6,000 liquor store tab for beverages for a Christmas party.
But union officials may not party quite as hardy in the future, thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision. In Harris v. Quinn the Justices ruled 5-4 that Illinois could no longer force home-based caregivers to pony up fees for SEIU.
The landmark case was brought by eight Illinoisans representing two groups of caregiversthose providing in-home care to the physically disabled and those tending to the mentally disabled.
Under Illinois Home-Based Support Services Program (HBSSP), both types of caregiversmost of them family members or friends tending to their loved onesreceive compensation from Medicaid. Its a win-win arrangement. The alternative to in-home careinstitutionalizationis far more costly for the state and denies patients the loving care of family members.
But in 2003 then-Governor (now-federal prison inmate) Rod Blagojevich made a political power play. He issued an executive order declaring the 20,000+ HBSSP participants caring for the physically disabled to be public employees eligible for unionization.
Rather than allow a secret ballot, he authorized a coercive card-check campaign that sent union organizers into workers homesoften repeatedly--to convince them to sign off on union representation on the spot. Ultimately, SEIU informed the state that it had the support of 52 percent of the home health workers, and the state promptly designated SEIU as their exclusive representative. Many homecare providers have since complained the SEIU mislead them about what they were signing. (Curiously, the state has since been unable to present any evidence that it ever verified the vote.)
The state also promptly started deducting dues and fair-share fees for SEIU from the home workers Medicaid payments. Those fees took as much as $750 a year out of caregivers Medicaid checks. The deductions have put $52 million in the unions coffers since 2007.
In June 2009, newly elected Gov. Pat Quinn decided to sweeten the pot. He issued an executive order targeting the 4,500 providers in the mental disabilities program for unionization.
One of those providers was Pamela Harris, who tends to her 25-year-old son, Josh. Harris wanted no part of it. There is no benefit to unionizing us, she said. There is no extra [Medicaid] funding to negotiate higher wages or paid vacations.
Moreover, she insists, Not a penny of Medicaid funding intended to help provide care for disabled men and women should be taken away and given to the union.
On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled that Illinois forced unionization scheme violated the caregivers First Amendment rights.
Illinois doesnt manage the home-health providers. It doesnt hire or fire them. They are, as the Court noted, are almost entirely answerable to the customers and not to the state.
In other words, they are NOT public employees. Illinois has no business forcing them to pay a union to lobby on their behalf. Free speech means they get to make that choice.
As my Heritage colleagues James Sherk and Andrew Kloster note, the ruling will likely have only limited impact in the short run. Nationwide, only 100,000 home caregivers say they belong to a union. Yet the SEIU reports 600,000 dues-paying home care members nationwide. Thus, it appears, the vast majority of organized home care providers dont even know that unions skim money from them.
The unions arent about to inform these caregivers of their First Amendment right to keep their money, so odds are the automatic dues and agency fee deductions will continue without their knowledge.
But the long-term outlook for public employee unions has dimmed. The majority opinion criticized the larger practice of forced unionization among government workers. Justice Samuel Alitos analysis made it clear that forced dues schemes may violate the First Amendment rights of even full-fledged public employees.
The ruling in Harris v. Quinn, has limited application now. But it may herald a future restoration of freedom of association and free speech rights for millions of federal, state and local workers who rightfully resent being forced to supportthrough compulsory union duespolitical speech and advocacy organizations that espouse views opposed to their own.
The SEIU is a disgusting organization.
What about a class action lawsuit to recover past dues!
Interesting. So since they have been ruled to be Not public employees, it would be a violation of their first amendment rights if they were forced to pay union dues.
But that means that IF they WERE public employees, it would NOT be a violation of their first amendment rights if they were forced to pay union dues?? Even this “win” feels like a lose when you have to twist, zig and zag that much to wiggle your way out from under union oppression.
Many care givers AND care receivers exist from hand-to-mouth in this economy, with many of the care giver angels providing pro bono work with many extra, off-the-clock hours of assistance.
Should these invaluable helping hands have to pay "dues" which the SEIU thugs in turn use for campaign donations to the Obama regime......in return for favors from him?
Yes, your idea of a class-action suit to recover dues extorted during this now-forbidden strong-arm travesty is very much in order.
yes it is
When there’s a union shop, the deal is between a particular company and the union.
If ABC Home Health Care’s employees form a closed shop, it shouldn’t affect DEF Home Health Care’s right to provide services or GHI Home Health Care’s right (which may not even exist yet).
I don’t know if the closed shop rules apply to state government in the same way they would apply to a private business. But of course there can’t be a competitor to the State of Illinois Home Health Care.
That's been my question.
The SEIU owes every cent back to the people they stole it from, plus interest, plus a SUBSTANTIAL penalty.
No private company would be simply told: "You can't do that anymore."
And no restitution made.
The LAST think this country needs is ANY person who gives home care as a UNION member.
What if they pull a nationwide strike?
SEIU is a completely out on control union.