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home : opinion : columnists April 29, 2016


7/24/2014 9:46:00 AM
Supreme Court ruling may strike down Washington state law
By Jason Mercier


By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Harris v. Quinn that home care workers in Illinois cannot be forced to pay dues to a union they do not wish to join. Home care workers, often family members, provide in-home care for disabled people and receive Medicaid payments administered by the state.

The court ruled that Medicaid beneficiaries and others participating in state entitlement programs are not full-fledged state employees, because they are hired by individuals and work in private homes, and therefore cannot be required to pay union fees against their will.

The ruling could strike down Washington state laws forcing unionization on some Washington residents. At a minimum, the ruling will apply to home care workers, family child care providers and language access providers. In Washington, 26,000 home care workers are required to give money each month to SEIU Local 775, and a further 12,000 early learning childcare providers must make monthly payments to executives at SEIU Local 925.

If the Court says home care workers in Illinois can't be forced to pay union dues, then home care workers and similar workers in Washington can't either. If the court's ruling is applied in Washington, some 38,000 workers will be able to keep their union dues without losing their Medicaid payments.

This ruling represents a victory for parents caring for children with developmental disabilities and similarly compensated workers, who have been forced to pay union dues because they receive payments administered by the state.

Jason Mercier is Washington Policy Center's Government Reform Director





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