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SCOTUS Rules Unions Can't Force Fees

Updated: Tuesday, July 1 2014, 09:12 AM CDT
In a split-decision along ideological lines, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday unions may not force in-home health care workers to pay fees.

The ruling was on an Illinois case, Harris v. Quinn, in which a group of workers lead by Pamela Harris, a mother taking care of her disabled son, said being forced to pay union fees against their will violated their free speech.

For Don Moss, the court's decision left him "very pleased."

Moss is a longtime advocate for developmentally disabled people. The Supreme Court ruling dealt specifically with the unionized home care workers who look after the elderly or physically impaired. But Moss sees the decision possibly affecting the as yet non-union disabilities workers.

"Many many people are pleased they don't have to subsidize the unions when they get no benefit from the unions," Moss said.

"Many," maybe, but not all.

"If you get enough people pulling away, things can go down, too," said Connie Haney, a home health care worker in Springfield

Haney is one of two personal assistants for Traciann Jostes, a double amputee.

"So, whatever's in the back of the freezer or the refrigerator I'm not able to get to," Jostes said. "She gets the stuff out."

Haney says she is a proud, unionized home care worker. Now if others don't have to pay, she says the union might lose sway.

"People start doubting and it starts falling down then you don't know where it might end up at," she said.

Haney said the union allows home health care workers like herself to take classes and have other benefits. Now, she said, they might have so-called "free riders."

"You want the whole benefit package of the union but yet you don't want to pay," Haney said. "You've got to do what you've got to do to get all the benefits."

Even as the unions here in Illinois are grappling with the fallout, it's likely others will, too.

"We feel that this could impact home health workers in all states," said Moss.

Union officials representing the home health care workers say they expect some members to leave, but they aren't expecting an exodus. The president of the SEIU believes the loss to union coffers could be in the millions.SCOTUS Rules Unions Can't Force Fees

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