System Puts Workers ‘Under Powerful Compulsion to Join’ the Union
(Source: May 2015 National Right To Work Newsletter)
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court alarmed government union bosses across the country when it found, in Harris v. Quinn, that Big Labor Illinois politicians had violated the First Amendment.
The Harris case was argued and won by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys on behalf of a number of independent-minded home health care providers in the Prairie State.
Illinois elected officials had sought to compel and in some cases actually compelled these home personal care providers, who are neither public nor private employees, to join or pay fees to a private organization as a condition of their patients’ participation in state Medicaid waiver programs.
The care providers were willing to wage a long legal battle to avoid being corralled into a union simply to make it possible for their disabled patients (typically relatives or personal friends) to receive Medicaid funds for care in the home instead of being institutionalized.
By ruling in their favor, the High Court set a precedent that is now protecting hundreds of thousands of home care providers across the country from being forced to pay union dues or fees.
Thanks to Harris, Forced Fees Are Off the Table For Home Caregivers
Among them are Massachusetts residents who furnish, in their homes, “family child care services on behalf of low-income and other at-risk children and receive payment from the Commonwealth for such services . . . .”
Under a state law signed in 2012 by then-Gov. Deval Patrick (D), such providers are defined as “state employees” for the limited purpose of enabling union officials to corral them into unions.
Thanks to Harris, forced fees for home child care providers are off the table.
However, under the 2012 statute, known as Act 189, the officers of a single union may still acquire the power to force home child care providers to accept them as their mandatory “exclusive” (monopoly) representative.
Currently under Act 189, only officers of Local 509 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and not providers acting independently, may deal with the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) with regard to certain matters of public policy.
Big Labor bosses routinely claim that care providers who don’t want a union, and haven’t joined, as well as those who are union members, “benefit” from having a single union as their monopoly-bargaining agent.
But common sense indicates that being forced to accept representation you never asked for is not a “benefit.”
And nine Massachusetts citizens who operate child care businesses in their homes believe so strongly that they are, in reality, harmed by union monopoly bargaining that they have gone to federal court in order to vindicate their First Amendment rights.
Union Bosses Suddenly Change Their Tune About ‘Burdensome’ Monopoly Privileges
Rather than fight this lawsuit, in which the independent-minded care providers are being represented by Foundation attorneys, one might expect that, based on the rhetoric the union hierarchy indulged in during the Harris case, SEIU Local 509 officials would let it go unchallenged.
While Harris was under way, union bosses and their lawyers insisted that it is “burdensome” and potentially financially ruinous for a union to exercise monopoly-bargaining privileges when care providers aren’t forced to join or pay dues.
But the fact is, SEIU bosses are fighting furiously to retain their monopoly power.
They know full well, as AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel Thomas E. Harris admitted back in the early 1960’s, that even in the absence of forced-dues privileges monopoly bargaining itself puts a citizen “under powerful compulsion to join the union, since that is the only way he can have a voice in determining the provisions of the collective agreement.”
That means monopoly bargaining, with or without forced union dues, increases Big Labor wealth and power.
Plaintiffs Credibly Argue Government-Sector Monopoly Bargaining Is Unconstitutional
“The Right to Work Foundation-represented plaintiffs in the ongoing Massachusetts case, D’Agostino v. Patrick, have made a strong case that government-promoted union monopoly bargaining over home care providers is unconstitutional,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King.
“Unfortunately, in March a federal district judge in the Bay State found that forcing providers who don’t want anything to do with the Service Employees union to band with Local 509 in their dealings with the government does not violate their First Amendment rights.
“The plaintiffs and their Foundation attorneys are now seeking to get the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to take up the case.
“But regardless of how D’Agostino v. Patrick is ultimately resolved by the judiciary, it has already added to the ever-growing mountain of evidence that monopoly bargaining is no ‘burden’ for Big Labor.
“Rather, it is a privilege union bosses covet and will angrily defend whenever and wherever it is challenged.”