U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Hear Case Challenging Forced Union Affiliation as Violation of First Amendment
Minnesota home-based personal care providers argue being forced under SEIU union monopoly ‘representation’ violates their freedom to associate
Washington, D.C. (December 13, 2018) – Today, with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a group of Minnesota home-based home care providers filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case challenging a Minnesota state law used to force tens of thousands of home care providers under union monopoly “representation.” The providers, who work at home caring for disabled family members as part of a state-run Medicaid program, oppose union affiliation.
The case’s lead plaintiff, Teri Bierman, filed the suit with seven other home care providers to challenge a 2013 Minnesota state law used by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota to force home care providers to associate with it as a condition of providing care under the state Medicaid program.
Teri Bierman and the other home care providers provide critical care to their family members who receive state assistance to help pay for their care. Bierman provides care at home for her daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy and requires care throughout the day. The other plaintiffs in the case care for children diagnosed with severe autism, epilepsy, Rubenstein-Taybi syndrome, or other significant disabilities. Like the other plaintiffs, Bierman receives aid from a Minnesota program similar to Medicaid, which provides funds to families to care for disabled relatives.
On August 27, 2014, the SEIU “won” a controversial mail-in unionization vote for Minnesota caregivers. Even though only 13 percent of the state’s 27,000 home care providers indicated support for SEIU affiliation, that was enough for the state to impose the union’s monopoly representation onto every provider, because of the small number of ballots returned. Caregivers who didn’t vote or voted against the union were then forced to accept the SEIU’s “representation.”
Bierman v. Dayton asks the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s free association guarantee the unions’ monopoly bargaining privileges, by which a union forces its representation on individuals receiving state funds who do not consent to the representation.
By asking the Court to declare monopoly bargaining a violation of the First Amendment, Foundation staff attorneys seek to build off two recent Foundation-won Supreme Court decisions. In the 2014 Harris v. Quinn decision, the Court applied exacting First Amendment scrutiny to rule that providers like the Bierman plaintiffs cannot be required to pay union fees.
Next, in the June 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision, the Court declared that forced union fees for all public sector employees violate the First Amendment and opened the door to further cases seeking to uphold workers’ rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. In his opinion for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court that “designating a union as the employees’ exclusive representative substantially restricts the rights of individual employees.”
Both Harris and Janus were argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger, who is also the lead attorney in Bierman v. Dayton. Bierman now asks the Supreme Court, for the first time, to apply the same First Amendment standard to forced association as it has already applied to forced subsidies of union speech.
“If the Supreme Court agrees to hear Bierman, these home care providers will be one step closer toward ending an unconstitutional scheme that forces them to associate with a union they oppose as a condition of state assistance in providing care for their sons and daughters,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Forcing individuals under union monopoly representation flies in the face of the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of association. This case gives the High Court the opportunity to apply to Big Labor’s coercive exclusive representation powers the legal standards it laid out in Janus and Harris.”
(English) Appeals Court Hears First Amendment Challenge to Washington Scheme Forcing Childcare Providers under Union “Representation”
Appeals Court Hears First Amendment Challenge to Washington Scheme Forcing Childcare Providers under Union “Representation”
Self-employed childcare providers are forced to associate with SEIU just to take care of low income children whose care is subsidized by the state
Seattle, WA (December 3, 2018) – Today, a National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney will deliver arguments for a Washington childcare provider in Mentele v. Inslee, a case challenging forced union representation for businesses providing childcare to low-income families. The case will be argued before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington.
In the case, plaintiff Katherine Miller asks the court to strike down a state requirement that she accept Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 925 as her monopoly representative. She argues the requirement violates her First Amendment right to freedom of association, citing the First Amendment standard laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court in two National Right to Work Foundation-won decisions, Harris v. Quinn (2014) and Janus v. AFSCME decided in June.
Miller is jointly represented by staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Northwest-based Freedom Foundation. Right to Work Foundation staff attorney Milton Chappell will argue the case before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit.
Washington state statute provides childcare subsidies to about 7,000 low-income families in Washington. Childcare providers, including self-employed individuals and small business owners, are classified as “public employees” to force them under the SEIU’s monopoly representation. Originally, childcare providers were forced to fund union activity. The Harris decision struck down the forced fee requirement, but now Miller – who provides childcare for low-wage families that qualify for subsidies – is asking the court to strike down forced representation as well.
Foundation staff attorneys have brought lawsuits for individuals in other states subject to similar forced unionism schemes, including the Bierman v. Dayton case filed for a group of Minnesota homecare providers also forced under SEIU monopoly representation. Following a Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year, a petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to review Bierman is expected to be filed by a December 17 deadline.
“This case and others show what lengths union bosses will go to impose their forced unionism onto workers, even going so far as to classify thousands of self-employed workers and small business owners as ‘government employees,’ subject to their representation,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation who is in Seattle for the arguments. “Although forced dues represent the most visible injustice of compulsory unionism, the root of Big Labor’s coercive powers has always been union officials’ ability to force individuals under the union monopoly against their will. It’s long past time that courts apply the First Amendment to these forced representation schemes and strike them down to protect the freedom of association.”
Immediately after the Mentele case is argued, the court will hear arguments in Fisk v. Inslee, another case jointly litigated by National Right to Work Foundation and Freedom Foundation attorneys. That case seeks to stop SEIU officials from continuing to collect union dues from Washington providers without their consent, and argues that such dues seizures violate the Supreme Court’s recent Janus ruling prohibiting mandatory union payments.
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 200 cases per year. Its web address is www.nrtw.org.