The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Devastating Blow to Public Unions
By Sam Baker andEmma Roller
June 30, 2014
The case, Harris v. Quinn, involves Pamela Harris, a home-caregiver in Illinois who takes care of her disabled son. Harris is among home caregivers who have decided not to unionize through the Service Employees International Union, opting instead to bargain directly with the Medicaid recipients who decide how much money to allocate to their caregivers.
The case posed a challenge to so-called “fair-play fees,” which allow unions to collect dues from employees who aren’t in the union but who still benefit from the bargains unions strike with employers.
In the case of public-sector unions, though, the employer is the government. And for that reason, the challengers in Harris argued, the unions’ collective bargaining is inherently a political activity—unions are essentially lobbying the government.