Personal care providers can’t be conscripted into union representation

Harris v. Quinn

Contact: Deborah J. La Fetra

Status: Victory! Supreme Court issued judgement on June 30, 2014 and struck down an Illinois executive order and law that declares all personal home healthcare assistants to be public employees.

May a state compel personal care providers to accept and financially support a union as their exclusive representative to petition the state for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs?

As amicus (along with the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence), in support of  Pamela Harris, et al.  PLF argues:  No.  Compelling personal care providers to be deemed public employees for the purpose of being represented by a union violates the First Amendment guarantee that Americans cannot be compelled to speak or associate, or petition the government, against their wishes.

The facts giving rise to this issue are as follows:  An Illinois executive order and law declare all personal home assistants to be public employees, for the sole purpose of being represented by a collective bargaining unit that seeks to lobby for greater government spending on home health care.  The assistants were deemed to be represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), so that they would have “an effective voice” in petitioning the government for more public spending on home-based medical care.  Several personal home attendants, including Pamela Harris, sued (represented by the National Right to Work Foundation).  However, the district court and the Seventh Circuit upheld the order and law.  The attendants are asking the Supreme Court to review the case.


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