National Right to Work Foundation attorneys return to High Court to defend home-based personal care providers forced into union ranks
Washington, DC (January 21, 2013) – Tuesday morning, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys will argue a case before the United States Supreme Court that will decide whether Illinois homecare providers can be forced into union ranks against their will.
The case, Harris v. Quinn, is a class-action lawsuit filed by Pam Harris and seven other Illinois care providers after Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed an executive order designating 4,500 individuals who offer in-home care to disabled persons as "public employees," thus rendering them vulnerable to unwanted union organizing. However, the scheme only designates providers as public employees for the purposes of unionization, leaving the homecare recipients as the employers for all other aspects of the providers' work.
As a result of Quinn's order, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) organizers have been seeking to acquire monopoly bargaining control over this newly-created class of public employees.
Quinn's executive order mirrored one issued by disgraced former Governor Blagojevich, which designated over 20,000 personal care providers as state workers solely for the purpose of forcing them into union ranks. Quinn then expanded Blagojevich's directive to cover an additional 4,500 providers who were not included in the original order.
Several legal observers and pundits have referred to Harris as a "sleeper" case. At least 18 states have imposed schemes to unionize home-based personal care and childcare workers. This case could have significant ramifications of how the government determines what workers, who indirectly receive state subsidies based on their clientele, qualify as state employees. Foundation attorneys will argue that such schemes violate the providers' First Amendment right to choose with whom they associate to petition the government.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement:
"This scheme, which forces small business owners and even parents and grandparents taking care of children into union political association is a slap in the face of fundamental American principles we hold dear. The government does not have the power to force citizens to accept its handpicked political representation to lobby itself.
"Forcing homecare providers into union ranks just for the sake of lobbying is not only unconstitutional, but immoral. We hope the Court will agree and protect the rights of Pam Harris and tens of thousands of other care providers by striking down this constitutionally-dubious scheme."