National Right to Work Foundation attorneys file brief for Illinois homecare providers who had $32 million seized by SEIU without their consent
Washington, DC (May 21, 2018) – Today staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed the final brief in Riffey v. Rauner asking the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari and hear the case. The home care providers for whom the case was brought had over $32 million in fees seized by union officials in a scheme the Supreme Court has already ruled violated the First Amendment. The case is now fully briefed and the Supreme Court could announce in June whether it will take the case.
The reply brief filed today counters the claims made in briefs by union officials and the Illinois Attorney General. Those briefs were filed only after the Supreme Court required the union and the attorney general to file briefs responding to Foundation attorneys’ initial petition for a writ of certiorari.
Riffey v. Rauner is a continuation of the Foundation-won Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn case. If the Court decides to hear Riffey, the Justices will consider whether a class of nonmember homecare providers should receive a refund of over $32 million that SEIU union officials seized from them without their consent.
Beginning with a 2003 executive order by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, tens of thousands of individual homecare providers were classified as “public employees” solely so they could be unionized by the SEIU and thus required to pay union fees. Many of these in-home care givers were parents caring for their own children in their own homes.
Staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation assisted eight of these providers in filing a federal class-action lawsuit, Harris v. Quinn, challenging the forced dues. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that SEIU’s forced dues scheme violated the First Amendment rights of the in-home care providers.
To settle remaining issues, the case was remanded to the District Court and re-designated as Riffey v. Rauner. The District Court ruled in 2016 that, even though the workers never consented to their money being taken for union fees, the SEIU did not have to refund the over $32 million in unconstitutional fees confiscated from union nonmembers.
Foundation attorneys are now asking the Court to take the case and determine whether the “government inflicts a First Amendment injury when it compels individuals to subsidize speech without their prior consent.” If the Court so rules, it would overturn the lower court’s reasoning denying the providers refunds of the seized fees.
Riffey is not the only case being litigated by Foundation staff attorneys related to whether individuals must take steps to “opt out” of dues the Supreme Court has already ruled they cannot be required to pay. In Hamidi v. SEIU, currently fully briefed at the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a group of California state employee nonmembers are challenging a union requirement that they must take an additional step to “opt out” of union dues the union admits are used for lawfully non-chargeable political activity.
“Union bosses assume that they’re entitled to a significant cut of workers’ hard-earned money when they force nonmembers to leap through bureaucratic hoops just to stop funding activities they didn’t sign up to fund in the first place,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Foundation will continue to fight for these homecare providers to get their illegally-seized money back.”
“If the Supreme Court agrees with the National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney who argued the Janus case heard earlier this term, challenges like Riffey and Hamidi will likely be the next big issue when it comes to fully protecting the constitutional rights of government employees from forced unionism,” added Mix. “Ultimately, the Supreme Court should make it clear that individuals who have never joined a union cannot be required to take affirmative steps just to protect their First Amendment rights.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.