Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

July-02-14

Supreme Court Ruling in Harris v Quinn May Reduce Power of Unions

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that certain public sector employees who benefit from a labor union's representation will no longer have to pay union fees.

According to the decision in Harris v. Quinn, written by Justice Alito, unions can now only take dues from full state employees, not "partial public employees" - people that may be employed by an individual but who are paid by the state, like the Illinois home health care workers in the case. Illinois is one of 26 states that requires public sector workers to pay partial dues to unions. A 5-4 majority of the Court, however, found that such a requirement, as applied to "partial public employees," violates the First Amendment. Justice Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor.

The Harris decision will affect around 26,000 home care workers who are paid with Medicaid funds, as well as their patients. In the 10 years since home healthcare workers have been allowed to unionize in Illinois, there have been not only significant improvements in their working conditions but also significant improvements in training. "Wages have nearly doubled, from $7 to $13 an hour; training and supervision has increased, as well as standardization of qualifications, and workers now have health insurance," reported NPR's Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg in January.

The ruling in Harris is expected to lead to a large loss of union members and therefore a loss of union services that improve working conditions for all people in the union industries, like negotiating contracts and providing legal representation for grievances.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court did not strike down Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a 1977 case that allows public sector unions to require fees from nonmembers who benefit from the union's representation.

Media Resources: NPR 6/30/14; SCOTUSblog 6/30/14; Politico 6/30/14; New York Times 6/30/14


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

9/30/2014 US Supreme Court Shuts Down First Week of Early Voting in Ohio - Less than 24 hours before the start of Ohio's would-be voting period, the Supreme Court blocked efforts to restore a full seven days of early voting in the state, marking a win for the Republican-controlled legislature that enacted the new voting restrictions. The Supreme Court's order offered no opinion or explanation, but Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer would have ruled differently. . . .
 
9/30/2014 Georgetown Alumni Call Out University for Not Allowing Reproductive Rights Protests - Over 200 Georgetown University alumni have sent a letter to university President John J. . . .
 
9/29/2014 Hope for Afghan Women as New President is Sworn In - Ashraf Ghani, who has publicly and consistently stated his support for women's rights and women's participation in government, was sworn in as the new President of Afghanistan today at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. Over 1000 national and international guests attended the ceremony, including high-ranking officials from the United Nations and 34 countries and a delegation from the United States. . . .