The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 5 to 4 that certain public sector “partial public employees” may not be required to pay their fair share of union dues. The case, Harris v. Quinn, concerns Medicaid-based home health-care workers in Illinois.
The decision does not directly impact private sector workers, and does not forbid requiring most public employees to contribute their share of the cost of their own collective bargaining. It does, however, set a dangerous precedent that erodes the right of unions to collect fees for collective bargaining for workers they are required by law to represent.
Click here for a video of IAM General Counsel Mark Schneider explaining the implications of Harris v. Quinn.
“The ruling in Harris v. Quinn effectively gives a narrow class of home health care workers the legal right to freeload off their coworkers,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “It is the equivalent of claiming a right to not pay taxes. It’s ultimately a loss for working people and an assault on all workers’ collective bargaining rights.”
Conservatives will celebrate today’s decision as a blow to unions,” continued Buffenbarger. “But this is not the first time the rights of working people have been attacked by the courts. Being the underdog is nothing new, and we’ve learned to prevail after such setbacks.”
Last week, the Supreme Court invalidated three recess appointments that President Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in January 2012. The appointments were made because obstructionism by Republican Senators was about to make the NLRB inoperable because of a lack of board members. Since the NLRB now has a full contingent of five Senate-confirmed members, the ruling as a practical matter only affects a set of NLRB decisions.