Court of Appeals ordered to reconsider case seeking return of $32 million in union fees seized by SEIU without providers’ consent
Washington, DC (June 28, 2018) – This morning the U.S. Supreme Court granted, vacated, and remanded Riffey v. Rauner, asking the Court of Appeals to reconsider the case in light of the new precedent set in the National Right to Work Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision. A group of Illinois home care providers filed Riffey with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The case seeks the return of over $32 million in fees seized by SEIU union officials in a scheme declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Riffey v. Rauner is a continuation of the 2014 Foundation-won Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn case. In Harris, the Court ruled that a forced dues scheme imposed by the state of Illinois, in which over 80,000 individual homecare providers in Illinois were unionized and thus required to pay union fees, violated the First Amendment.
In 2014, the case was re-designated Riffey v. Rauner and remanded to the District Court to settle remaining issues, including whether or not tens of thousands of providers who had never joined the union would receive refunds of the money taken from them unlawfully by the SEIU. In June 2016, the District Court ruled that, despite the Supreme Court ruling in Harris, the SEIU did not have to repay the funds. Foundation staff attorneys appealed that ruling to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed, claiming that, even though these workers never consented to their money being taken for forced dues, they did not suffer First Amendment injury.
Foundation staff attorneys earlier this year asked the Supreme Court to grant certiorari and hear the case to clarify that it is a violation of the First Amendment when fees are taken from nonmembers without their consent. After the Court released its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, declaring it a First Amendment violation for public sector workers to be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, the Court granted certiorari in Riffey, vacated the lower court’s ruling, and remanded the case back to the Court of Appeals.
“With the Supreme Court remanding Riffey, we are one step closer toward vindicating the rights of the tens of thousands of victims, many whom are family members caring for disabled children in their own homes,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Supreme Court already ruled in the Foundation’s 2014 Harris v. Quinn case that the scheme violated the First Amendment. It is long past time that the over $32 million illegally seized by SEIU union bosses be returned.”
“Now, with the new protections for workers afforded by our landmark Janus v. AFSCME victory, it is critical to establish that unions cannot require individuals to ‘opt out’ of union dues that they cannot be required to pay in the first place,” continued Mix. “Union officials are already using such ‘opt-out’ schemes nationwide to limit workers’ constitutional protections. Ultimately, a clear ruling by the Supreme Court on this issue is needed to ensure that individuals who never joined a union cannot be required to take affirmative steps simply 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.