NFIB/RI Hails SCOTUS Ruling on Forced Unionization of Home Care Workers

Date: June 30, 2014

Providence (June 30,

The US Supreme Court today ruled that Illinois cannot force home care providers
to pay labor unions in a decision that the National Federation of
Independent Business (NFIB)
said could threaten a similar scheme in Rhode

“If the state can force
home health care workers to join unions or pay union dues simply because their
clients received public subsidies, then it could eventually try to coerce other
types of businesses under the same pretense,” said NFIB State Director Bill
.  “This has major implications for the law for home day care
workers in Rhode Island that is modeled after the Illinois law that was
struck down today.”

The case, Harris v.
, 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.  Rhode Island and several other states now have similar
laws for home day care workers in place. 

“Forcing workers to join
unions is fundamentally unfair under any circumstances,” said Vernon
“But it is absolutely chilling that government can reclassify private sector
workers as government workers simply because public money is indirectly

The state provides
millions in subsidies to hundreds of thousands 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.

“Only a small fraction of
the private sector workforce in Rhode Island is unionized because
workers don’t want to join,” said Vernon.  “These laws are a sneaky
way for labor unions, through their political allies, to force workers to
become union members who would not join voluntarily. But now those laws are
unconstitutional as well as sneaky.”

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