The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision Monday (June 30) in Harris vs. Quinn, a case about public sector fair share/agency fee arrangements. Fair share is the long-held principle that every worker who enjoys the benefits and protections of a negotiated contract should, in fairness, contribute to costs for maintaining those contract benefits.
The court's narrow 5-4 decision struck a blow against working families when it eliminated fair share provisions for Illinois home health care workers. (Read the full opinion as a pdf file.)
WEA President Kim Mead's statement about the decision:
"Today's ruling in the Harris vs. Quinn case by the U.S. Supreme Court hurts the people who need high quality home health care services and the people who provide them. WEA stands with our labor partners in advocating for living wages that support the ability of working people to move out of poverty and achieve the middle class.
"I am dismayed that the Supreme Court has rolled back, at least for the home health care workers in this case, a fundamental principle of our society, which is that people pay for what they use. In this case, those who reap the benefits and protections of a negotiated contract will no longer pay their fair share of costs associated with securing or maintaining that contract.
"In regards to educators in Washington, WEA will continue to work hard to represent the interests of our members at the bargaining table and in Olympia. Our job is to make your lives and work better and we remain committed to doing that with you."
More about Harris vs. Quinn:
The plaintiffs in this case were home-care providers represented by the conservative National Right to Work Committee. They asked the court to declare all public sector fair share/agency fee arrangements unconstitutional, by overruling a 1977 precedent-setting decision, Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education. The court did not overrule Abood, but continued to suggest it may review its provisions in future cases.
Harris vs. Quinn centered on a First Amendment challenge to an Illinois statute that:
(a) allows home-care providers (who are paid through certain state programs but are directed in their day-to-day activities by the patients they care for) to select a union to be their exclusive representative for purposes of negotiating with the state over rates of pay and other working conditions; and
(b) allows such a duly selected union to collect a representation fee from all home-care providers, whether they are members of the union or agency fee payers.