- In a decision that impacts 26,000 home healthcare workers in Illinois, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that "partial-public employees" cannot be required to pay union fees that help pay for collective bargaining costs. The basis for the 5-4 ruling was to protect the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with union positions.
- The impacted workers care for the elderly and the disabled and are paid with Medicaid funds. According to Justice Samuel Alito, "partial-public employees" do not have the rights and benefits of state employees and therefore cannot be treated the same underneath the 2003 state legislation that made state employees eligible for collective bargaining.
- By limiting the ruling to partial-public employees, the decision maintained a traditional union practice permitting public-sector unions of government employees to pass along their representation costs to nonmembers.
According to a suit filed by a group of workers led by home health aid Pamela Harris, collective bargaining fees violate the First Amendment of those workers who disagree with political positions taken by the union (specifically, the expansion of Medicaid). According to Harris' group, the collection of fees from home health employees is inappropriate since those workers do not work on government property and are not supervised by other government employees.
According to Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU, it is unclear how the ruling will impact the home care union model in other states; however, the limitations of the ruling do protect unions of government employees from what otherwise might have had disastrous implications for membership.