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Supreme Court

SEIU begins dropping efforts to force home healthcare workers to pay dues

SEIU Michigan.jpg

The June ruling from the Supreme Court on Harris v. Quinn has spurred class action suits to recover dues and three state offices for the SEIU to pull back from collecting fees from home care workers. (AP)

Just over a month after a landmark Supreme Court ruling, the Service Employees International Union is starting to drop its efforts to force home healthcare workers to pay dues.

SEIU local officials in Illinois, Minnesota, and Massachusetts notified home-based childcare and healthcare providers that they will not collect union fees. The news follows the June 30 ruling against forcing their collection by the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn, a class action lawsuit filed by staff attorneys for the National Right to Work Foundation representing eight health workers in the Prairie State.

“We’re just starting to see the full implication of the Foundation’s win in the Harris case,” Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, told “In recent years, Big Labor has increasingly turned to friendly governors whose campaigns they funded to unionize people who aren’t truly government employees so they can skim forced dues from government subsidies. Enforcement of the Harris precedent nationwide will end that.

"We still have a lot of work to do to get there, and almost certainly more lawsuits will need to be filed to completely shut down all these schemes, but already freeing tens of thousands of Americans from being forced to pay union dues is a big step.”

The union’s Illinois chapter alone announced it will not demand $10 million in forced dues from home care providers.

Officials for the national offices of the SEIU did not immediately return requests for comment.

The high court held in its June 30 ruling that the Service Employees International Union cannot force people who care for loved ones to be union members and deduct dues from the government checks of those they care for. The practice has gone on for several years in a handful of states, creating a lucrative stream of cash for the powerful labor organization, which represents more than two million workers and takes in about $300 million per year.

“The whole point of the decision was that the folks milked by the SEIU weren’t really public employees and should not be forced to pay union dues at all," Hans Bader, senior attorney for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told at the time. "So they should be able to sue for refund of their compelled union dues back as far as the statute of limitations will allow. It could have a large effect.”

In Michigan, where the SEIU had dues deducted directly from Medicare checks sent to people cared for in their homes by loved ones, the practice ended when lawmakers passed legislation in 2012 making it a right-to-work state. Membership among those previously classified as home health workers plunged by 80 percent by some estimates, but the SEIU kept people previously classified as union members on its rolls until the contract had expired.

The legality of that policy under the state's right-to-work law is in dispute, and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has launched a class-action suit to recoup $3 million worth of dues collected after 2012 from claimants who believed their membership ended when the law was changed. 

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