NFIB/MD Applauds SCOTUS Ruling Striking Involuntary Payments to Government Unions

Date: June 30, 2014

Annapolis (June 30, 2014) – The US Supreme Court today ruled that states cannot force home care providers to join labor unions in a decision that the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) called a potentially big victory for small business in Maryland.


“Governor O’Malley signed a similar executive order basically turning private sector employees into public sector union members.  The Legislature subsequently codified that order with a law that the Governor signed.  So this ruling raises a big question about the constitutionality of Maryland’s mandate,” said NFIB State Director Jessica Cooper.


The case, Harris v. Quinn, originated in Illinois and focused on whether states can force non-union home care workers to join labor unions if their clients receive public subsidies to purchase those services.  That’s the basis on which Illinois Governor Pat Quinn issued an executive order in 2003 designating home care workers as “public employees” even though they work for private sector businesses.  Maryland and several other states now have similar mandates in place. 


“Forcing private sector employees to pay union dues is an extraordinary measure that strikes most people as highly unfair,” said Cooper.  “The court’s decision today appears to invalidate the Maryland executive order and now the Legislature may be forced to address the issue.”  


The state provides billions in subsidies to millions of residents under hundreds of different programs. They use it to purchase goods and services from private sector businesses of every variety and they’re all private transactions between private citizens and private sector businesses.  Workers in those businesses cannot be forced into unions because of where their customers get their money.


“Private sector labor unions have been shrinking as a percentage of the workforce and this was a way to artificially boost their numbers,” said Cooper.  “Based on the Supreme Court ruling I’m not sure the Maryland scheme can withstand a challenge.  It should be repealed immediately.


“Forcing workers to pay unions that use the money for their own political activities is a serious violation of the First Amendment,” she continued.  “It’s a serious abuse of constitutional rights and the Maryland Legislature should address it.”


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