The court held on a 5-4 vote that plaintiff Pamela Harris and
others who provide in-home care for family members and others with
disabilities were not full-fledged public employees who could be
forced to pay union dues to a public employees union.
The decision left intact the court's 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit
Board of Education. That ruling said unions could collect such
compulsory dues used for non-political activities under collective
"Abood involved full-fledged public employees, but in this case, the
status of personal assistants is much different," conservative
Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.
Illinois law excludes such in-home caregivers from retirement and
health insurance plans and the state does not assume liability for
actions taken during the course of their employment, Alito noted.
"Illinois deems personal assistants to be state employees for one
purpose only, collective bargaining," Alito wrote.
The National Right to Work Foundation, an anti-union group that
backed the caregiver plaintiffs in the case, lauded the ruling.
[to top of second column]
"We applaud these homecare providersí effort to convince the Supreme
Court to strike down this constitutionally-dubious scheme, thus
freeing thousands of homecare providers from unwanted union
control," the group's president, Mark Mix said, in a statement.
The case is Pamela Harris, et al v. Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois,
U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-681.
(Editing by Will Dunham)
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