Yesterday, in addition to the Hobby Lobby decision, the US Supeme Court also published the Harris decision. In that case, a home healthcare worker sued the state of Illinois because they required her to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She said her 1st Amendment rights were being violated by the State of Illinois and SEIU because they used her mandatory union dues to promote political positions with which she did not agree.
The Supreme Court sided with Ms. Harris in a fairly narrow ruling that was based on the fact that she was not really an employee of the State, she was really an independent contractor.
The decision has the potential to take millions away from the SEIU and the Democratic Party. As we’ve noted before, public employee unions are nothing more than a conduit for taxpayer funding of Democratic candidates and we think they should be abolished. We’ll take Harris as a starting point.
In Illinois, this immediately puts a stop to the SEIU collecting $20 million in annual dues from home healthcare workers. This has been an issue in a growing number of states, as Democratic governors and union officials desperately look for new sources of revenue, and home healthcare workers have been a ripe target. They’re low paid, they work in scattered locations individually, they’re not particularly well educated – with the obvious exception of Ms. Harris – and they’re not prone to picking a fight with the state or a deep pocket union.
Thirteen other states currently force home health workers and daycare workers to give part of their Medicaid payments to unions. The Supreme Court’s decision has laid the foundation to challenge those state policies, according to Patrick Semmens, spokesman for the National Right to Work Committee, which represented Harris in the suit.
“This will help us in existing challenges we have going to end these types of schemes in other states,” he said.
The decision could strike a devastating blow to national labor groups, despite the fact that home health care workers in Illinois paid as little as $30 a month to the unions, according to Semmens.
“We’ve estimated that there are as many as half a million people who aren’t state employees being called state employees for the purpose of paying dues,” he said.
500,000 people times $30 per month is a bunch of money that won’t be able to be used to fund the Democratic Party. It also is likely to spread beyond home healthcare workers.
In Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton has been trying to forcibly unionize day care workers for several years. The day care workers have sued and the case is pending appeal in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court specifically delayed their decision on the case pending the Harris decision. The cases are not identical, but there’s enough overlap to give hope that the Circuit Court will smack down Dayton. Even if it doesn’t, there’s enough overlap to justify an appeal to SCOTUS.
It would appear that Public Employee Unions are right where they should be. On the run.