Breaking: For Independence Day, Supreme Court Strikes Blow for Worker Freedom

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2014 at 12:37 pm - Permalink

Big Labor dealt setback as Court reins in coercive dues collection

Today, The United States Supreme Court struck a blow for the First Amendment — just in time for the Fourth of July.

In Harris v. Quinn, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that home healthcare workers in Illinois cannot be forced to pay dues to the Services Employees International Union (SEIU).

Lower courts had found that because these workers, known as personal assistants (PA) received payment through the State via Medicaid, they were de facto public employees and therefore could be compelled to pay an “agency fee” to the union which bargained collectively for State employees. These PA’s were estimated to have contributed up to $3.6 million annually to the SEIU in Illinois, whether these workers wanted to associate with the union or not.

The Supreme Court disagreed, noting that; “… a union’s status as exclusive bargaining agent and the right to collect an agency fee from nonmembers are not inextricably linked.” Further, the Court concludes:

[N]o person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support. The First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from personal assistants in the Rehabilitation Program who do not want to join or support the union.

Matt Patterson, Executive Director of the Center for Worker Freedom at Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), celebrated the victory for the workers who had been coerced into paying union dues, saying:

Freedom of association has been a bedrock American liberty since our nation’s birth 238 years ago. The Court has wisely recognized the SEIU’s bargain with the State of Illinois regarding privately contracted home healthcare workers for what it is — a violation of these workers First Amendment rights to freely associate.

The Center for Worker Freedom (CW) is a special project of Americans for Tax Reform dedicated to educating the public about the costs and consequences of unionization.