LOS ANGELES, Calif. (December 17, 2001) – Filing on behalf of approximately 80,000 fellow independent home care providers who serve elderly and disabled citizens in Los Angeles County, Janos Hummel today served top California government officials and a powerful labor union with a federal lawsuit challenging a scheme that arbitrarily deems private care providers “public employees” and requires them to pay union dues in violation of their First Amendment rights.
The AFL-CIO has hailed the forced unionization of the 80,000 home care providers as organized labor’s single largest organizing victory ever. Sacramento and San Diego counties and, more recently, Oregon and Washington state, have since adopted virtually identical schemes.
The civil rights class action, filed by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, names as defendants the AFL-CIO-affiliated Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 434B, the Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC) of Los Angeles County, and Attorney General Bill Lockyer, along with several other California officials.
“Union chiefs devised this lucrative scheme to seize money from taxpayers, disabled citizens, and those who care for them,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is providing free legal aid to the plaintiffs. “This suit intends to halt the AFL-CIO’s illegal plan to use government force to unionize independent home care providers across America.”
In 1999, Local 434B officials gained recognition by PASC as the exclusive bargaining agents of home care workers who provide non-medical in-home support services to disabled low-income clients. Although they are reimbursed through the state, the workers are independently hired, fired, supervised, and trained by individual recipients of home care. The constitutionally suspect agreement brokered between union operatives and government bureaucrats declares home care providers are “public employees” for collective bargaining purposes only and has no bearing on hiring, firing, training, work schedules, workplace safety, disputes with employers, and other terms of workers’ employment. Workers must also obtain their own insurance and indemnify the state and county from any claims resulting from on-the-job acts.
The class-action lawsuit asks that SEIU Local 434B’s entire contract with PASC, and as well as its ability to collect forced dues from independent home care providers, be revoked as an unconstitutional infringement on workers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. National Right to Work Foundation attorneys are also demanding all illegally seized union dues be returned to the plaintiffs.
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 about 200 cases nationwide per year.