The Supreme Court released two decisions this morning, both of them decided along liberal/conservative lines, 5 to 4. The first decision, from Illinois health care workers against SEIU, sided against the union. It wasn’t unanimous but it was a rebuke to unions planning to expand at the expense of the public. On a 5-4 decisions, SCOTUS says that public service unions like SEIU cannot force non-members to pay dues.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions Monday, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover the union’s costs of collective bargaining.
In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take.
The ruling is a setback for labor unions that have bolstered their ranks – and bank accounts – in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of in-home care workers. It could lead to an exodus of members who will have little incentive to pay dues if nonmembers don’t have to share the burden of union costs.
But the ruling was limited to this particular segment of workers – not private sector unions – and it stopped short of overturning decades of practice that has generally allowed public sector unions to pass through their representation costs to nonmembers.
Writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said home care workers are different from other types of government employees because they work primarily for their disabled or elderly customers and do not have most of the rights and benefits of state employees.
You can read the entire article here.
A lawyer friend of mine explained that the defense, the Illinois health care litigators, argued for an exception. Therefore, SCOTUS could only grant that exception. If the grounds of the argument had been wider or on other grounds, the decision could have been different—knocking down all union extortion of dues from non-members…or siding with the union. In any case it was a step in the right direction even it it does apply only to public sector unions.
The second decision announced today is one the religious and 1st Amendment advocates have been waiting for. It is the famous Hobby-Lobby, Mardel and Conestoga suit against HHS that would force these companies to provide contraception insurance against the company owner’s religious views.