Strong Arm Of Public Employee Unions Reaches For Home-Care Workers
Last year, I wrote extensively about “paycheck protection,” an issue that deals with public employee unions and how they collect their political dues. But there are many facets to the public employee unionization problem beyond political dues. One of particular note is the forced unionization of home-care workers. Pamela Harris takes care of her disabled son Josh in Illinois, but because the state pays for Josh’s care, Illinois wants to force Pamela — Josh’s mother and caretaker — to join and pay dues to a public employee union.
The government is arguing that because people like Harris receive taxpayer money, they are state employees subject to union dues, though not the pensions and liability coverage that their fellow public sector workers receive. Harris was puzzled by the classification, considering that unions cannot negotiate other benefits for her family because the Medicaid program is capped.
The state receives very personal and comprehensive care for Josh, its intended beneficiary; Pamela gets to help her son. And obviously, this wasn’t a fight Pamela was picking. She just wants to take care of her child.
“I don’t want to be the face and name associated with an anti-union campaign, but this is at its heart a mother doing what she thinks is right for her son,” she told the Washington Free Beacon. “I don’t see this as a union issue, but the current administration in Illinois has an unhealthy relationship with public sector unions. We got swept up in that.”
Her son Josh, 25, has a rare muscular genetic disease called Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome that has left him intellectually disabled, non-communicative, and unable to control his body. She bathes him, brushes his teeth, pops his dislocated limbs back into place, and takes him to meetings with doctors, specialists, and therapists.
Think this is just an Illinois problem? You might want to reconsider that assumption. In 2008, Missouri voters passed the Quality Home Care Act, which gave comparable power to the home-care unions in Missouri to force home-care workers to pay them tributes — I mean, dues. As the Missouri Chamber of Commerce noted (emphasis mine):
The Quality Home Care Act makes it easier for these workers to unionize and begin the collective bargaining process. The language allows a vote to go under union representation if just 10 percent of the workers expressed a desire to organize, compared to the 30 percent that is usually required. It requires all personal care attendants to pay union fees. In addition, the election to determine union representation would be conducted via mail ballot and not by secret ballot, which is current law.
This issue, now sitting before the U.S. Supreme Court, is not just a problem in Illinois — it’s a Missouri problem, too, and one we’re closely watching. Pamela Harris shouldn’t have to fight a union to take care of her son, and no worker should have to deliver unions a ransom to work in a given field. We’ll keep you posted.