On June 30, 2014 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Pamela Harris, a plaintiff in a closely watched case pitting home-care workers against union bosses in the state of Illinois.
Before this ruling, in-home care workers were obligated to pay the same dues to the union as regular health care workers employed by the state of Illinois. These home care workers are not deemed “fully-fledged” employees of the state, unlike other health care workers.
In-home care workers do not receive the same benefits as those in the union who are considered full-time employees. They receive no retirement benefits, nor do they receive health care, yet had to pay state union dues nonetheless.
So what does this mean for the union involved? Due to this case, it will be without the monetary dues of several thousand workers. Their membership numbers will also be drastically reduced. This may lessen their collective bargaining strength with the state of Illinois, and reduce their power.
And the in-home care state employees? They are no longer forced to hand over dues to a union many were not interested in being a part of.
Pamela Harris, the name and the face of the lawsuit, is an in-home care worker for her son Josh, a disabled adult. She receives financial assistance from the state for this work.
Harris was considered to be a state employee with orders to pay unions dues, but without the benefits of being a full-time state employee. She also does not believe that a union had any business being involved with the in-home care of her son.
Not happy with this arrangement for the past five years, she sued the state of Illinois.
Harris is not alone. There are several thousand in-home care workers (often family members) who care full-time for loved ones, with financial assistance from the government.
Like Harris, none receive government benefits. They are now free of union affiliation and forced dues.
Those receiving in-home care were also afforded no protection under the previous arrangement.