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*** UPDATED x2 *** Two sides of union debate

Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014

* Tribune editorial

“I am not an employee of the state. I work from my home. I don’t want the union in my home. I can Norma Rae with the rest of them.”

That’s the sentiment of Pamela Harris, an Illinoisan who provides care for her disabled son, Joshua. He has a rare condition that causes cognitive and physical impairments. For this function, she and some 20,000 other personal assistants receive stipends from the state through Medicaid.

It’s a good program. The providers save the state money by allowing those in need to live in their own homes rather than public facilities, and participants get to choose those who provide their assistance — often family members.

Harris’ disagreement is with two governors, the General Assembly and the Service Employees International Union. In 2003, the legislature passed a law codifying a policy adopted by Rod Blagojevich classifying the caregivers providing rehabilitation services as state employees for purpose of union representation. They get it from SEIU-Healthcare Illinois & Indiana. Those who don’t want to join the union have to pay dues anyway.

* AFSCME’s Henry Bayer responds via e-mail…

You wouldn’t know it from today’s Tribune, but the named plaintiff in the suit, Pamela Harris, whose right to not pay dues they staunchly defend, doesn’t pay dues.

The caregivers who were granted collective bargaining rights by the Governor’s Executive Order voted against representation. Thus, Harris and all of the other caregivers covered by the Executive Order she contests, pay neither dues nor fees, a fact the Trib either doesn’t know or chooses to ignore. Is it ignorance or malice or both on the part of the editors?

They also ignore the fact that in the public sector employees who choose not to join the union are not required to do so. They pay a fee which excludes any costs associated with political or ideological expenditures and only requires them to pay for the services which the union is legally obligated to provide to them, which included, in the case of Illinois, hefty increases in their abysmally low wages and access to affordable health care.

Ms. Harris could take care of her child and not request or receive pay from the state. Then she would not be eligible for union representation. She could also hire someone to care for her child. She could pay those wages herself, and the individual providing those services would remain outside the purview of the Executive Order.

Finally, they fail to point out that caring for the disabled is a state responsibility

She has chosen to ask the state to pay for her services in the care for her loved one. She was not required by the law to do so, but has understandably exercised that right.

Why would she or the Trib think that she should have the right to receive a state paycheck for her services, but the state should have no right to declare her, or anyone else receiving a state paycheck, a state employee?

Her attitude of entitlement is one I thought the Tribune rejected.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** From the Bruce Rauner campaign…

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in Harris v. Quinn. In the case, Pam Harris is challenging Illinois’ requirements that home care providers are designated as government employees and forced to provide union dues even though they are hired by the individuals for whom they provide care. Moreover, Harris only provides care for her son.

“People like Pam Harris, who only wants to care for her own child, should not be forced to join and pay into government unions. Her case is a clear example of government union overreach and anyone who wants to be governor of Illinois should make clear where they stand on it,” said Bruce Rauner. “Pam Harris is dedicating her life to her child and she deserves the freedom to decide herself whether or not she joins a government union.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** From a press release…

Illinois State Representative and candidate for Illinois State Treasurer Tom Cross today released the following statement on the United States Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in Harris v. Quinn. The case focuses on challenging executive orders signed by Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn that force Illinois home-care workers to join unions, some of which are spending member dues on political causes that are not necessarily supported by the organizations’ membership:

“I believe forcing Illinois home-care workers to join a union and pay labor dues against their will violates both their right to free association and freedom of speech. For too long, the leadership in Illinois has focused on rewarding special interests as opposed to making common sense decisions that are fiscally prudent and defend core individual rights. It is not the job of state government to pick winners and losers, in this case seeking to bolster falling union membership; instead, elected leaders must put the common good before all else. My hope is the Supreme Court hears the arguments in this case and comes to the conclusion that Illinois’ actions are unconstitutional and cannot be allowed to stand.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


73 Comments
  1. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:17 am:

    Has anybody researched patterns in cuts for gov’t funding?

    Do unionized services get cut more easily or non-unionized services?

    If the workers in these programs aren’t unionized, these programs will be easy to cut.

    The fact that a minority of people complain…

    Hey, plenty of us don’t like paying for wars and settlements on police misconduct for repeat offenders.

    Take the money, take the strings.


  2. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:17 am:

    I’m not sure Bayer looks very good here bashing a mother taking care of a child taking care of a child with a medical condition. I guess if someone isn’t in a union they should never accept state assistance.


  3. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    Allowing states to make labor unions ineffective was the compromise the country came to with Taft-Hartley.

    But now the anti-union forces want to chip away at unionizing in states that support labor unions.


  4. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    How’s this for a compromise?

    If people want to opt out of the union for these programs, they can.

    But then they go into a separate pool where the ILGA and Governor can decide what to pay them.

    When it comes time to cut the budget their pay can be reduced separately from the unionized workers.

    Do these people want to be free of being in a labor union? Or do they want to create a situation where others can’t be part of an effective labor union?


  5. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    Thoughts?

    “The named plaintiff in the suit, Pamela Harris, whose right to not pay dues [the Tribune] staunchly defend, doesn’t pay dues.”

    The Tribune’s omission of that material fact was simply dishonest.

    “Her attitude of entitlement is one I thought the Tribune rejected.”

    AFSCME’s response is unimaginably tin-eared.

    – MrJM


  6. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    She receives money from the state, and therefore the state has the right to call her an employee of the state.

    Is the state also claiming that other grant recipients such as privately held non-profits are effectively “employees” of the state of Illinois? Healthcare workers receive X percentage of their income in the form of state monies from Medicaid. Are they too “employees” of the state?


  7. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    Correction: that first sentence was meant to be a rhetorical question, not a statement of opinion or fact. My basic point is: “At what point are people deemed employees of the state?”

    Clearly just getting some type of stipend or grant doesn’t make somebody a state employee. Effectively the public sector unions want to put additional strings on what monies the state gives out. In this case, “if you receive state money, you must be a state employee.”

    It’s an absurd conclusion. At some some point, the line must be drawn between grants/stipends, versus vendors, versus straight-up employment.


  8. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    “…They pay a fee which excludes any costs associated with political or ideological expenditures and only requires them to pay for the services which the union is legally obligated to provide to them…”

    I found this very confusing. Are funds withheld from her stipend and sent to SEIU? It sounds like ‘yes.’ If so, the distinction between a “fee” and “dues” is meaningless.


  9. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    Bayer makes some good points. It’s a pity that he had to add that slap to the mother of a disabled child.

    Despite his ungracious and egregious closing, the Tribune should run a correction.


  10. - dave - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    **Are funds withheld from her stipend and sent to SEIU? It sounds like ‘yes.’**

    Pam Harris doesn’t have ANYTHING withheld from her “stipend.” They voted against the union, so no one in the HBSS program pays dues or fair share fees.


  11. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    Will be surprised if SCOTUS doesn’t use these sympathetic mom caretakersof disabled kids to get rid of fair share dues for public unions entirely. Then they’ll come back around and eliminate them for private sector unions in a few years after that.

    SCOTUS will never get a more sympathetic plaintiff to enact their desire to abolish union dues compulsion as previously spelled out by Alito in Knox v. SEIU.

    This court is taking us all the way back to Lochner if it can.


  12. - olddog - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    Two things most kids learn in their first newspaper job:

    1. Don’t misrepresent the facts.

    2. Don’t lead with a quote.

    For a more professional analysis of the issues before the Supreme Court, see Nina Totenburg’s National Public Radio story at …

    http://www.npr.org/2014/01/21/264257440/illinois-case-brings-new-union-questions-to-supreme-court

    There are arguable issues on both sides of the case, but the Trib apparently didn’t want to be bothered with explaining them.


  13. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    “I am not an employee of the state. I just expect the state to send me money for my work. Is that too much to ask?”

    I think it’s noteworthy that John Galt probably despises taxes and the idea of paying government employees. But as soon as one of them becomes useful in his ideological crusade to undermine the freedom to organize effective labor unions, he volunteers to be her advocate.


  14. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    ==At some some point, the line must be drawn between grants/stipends, versus vendors, versus straight-up employment.==

    The decision was made by the person elected to make the decision. It was not overturned by the legislature.

    Instead, “Conservatives” seek to have the decision overturned by a Right Wing activist court system.


  15. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    A very insensitive and degrading response from Mr. Bayer. I would expect more from him.


  16. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    You know I am not a right-to-work fan, but it seems to me if you are taking care of a family member and only a family member you should have the right to opt out completely from the union.

    Also not really sure how I feel about the state telling people they are now part of a collective bargaining entity instead of them voting to be a part of one.


  17. - so... - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    ==A very insensitive and degrading response from Mr. Bayer. I would expect more from him.==

    I wouldn’t


  18. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    I think this is the first time I can remember where I totally agree with Henry Bayer.


  19. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    What Mr.JM said. There’s a fix here if partisans want to get off the barricades.


  20. - glaber - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    Confusing indeed. In what way is the union in the Harris home? She is not a member and pays no dues. What exactly is her complaint? It seems that disabling all unions is part of the agenda of the right wing. How will we address income disparity without unions? All of the power will lie on the side of the rich and powerful bosses. Even now unions are weakened by economic conditions. Losing one’s job is a disaster, and that is no position to bargain from.


  21. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    hisgirlfriday

    How can she be considered a plantiff if she doesn’t pay anything ? She is not a union member or fair share. I am really mystified why the SCOTUS took this case since she has no issue to argue.

    “SCOTUS will never get a more sympathetic plaintiff”


  22. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    Carl Nyberg–

    I do not despise all taxes, nor do mind our tax dollars paying state employees. I am not an anarchist for goodness sake. You’re erecting straw men for yourself.

    I also don’t mind people’s first amendment rights to voluntarily organize and collectively bargain. But that is not the same thing as having a right to FORCE otherwise unwilling people to join a labor union against their will.

    As for a radical right wing SCOTUS–were you complaining about that same radical right wing court system when it upheld the ACA a few years ago? Or when it ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional? What if the SCOTUS actually rules against the plaintiffs in this upcoming case and in favor of the unions? Will they still be a terrible right wing activist court in your mind?

    Or is that only when you happen to disagree with one of their rulings?

    The bottom line is we won’t know the result of this until we know the result of this. It’s all speculation up to that point.


  23. - Richard - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    - olddog -

    Thanks for the link to that story…it really lays out the facts. Everyone should read it before commenting on this thread. I know the Trib piece was an editorial, and therefore not subject to the give-both-sides-of-the-story rules of journalism, but c’mon Tribsters…please be a little more intellectually honest with your readers and provide some factual context!


  24. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    AFSCME Steward–

    That’s a great question. Looking at the case over at SCOTUS Blog, it appears that your question is one of the ones that will be addressed:

    http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/harris-v-quinn/

    It’s entirely possible that this gets tossed out on a lack of ripeness claim. OTOH, if it was patently obvious that the case was not yet ripe, you’d think that the SCOTUS would not have granted cert. in the first place.


  25. - Conservative Republican - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    ==This court is taking us all the way back to Lochner if it can.==

    Just love that reductio ad absurdum. And also find it rich in that Illinois is union-strangled and the economy shows it. Look at the performance, and quality of life, in right to work states. No contest.


  26. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    ==you should have the right to opt out completely from the union.==

    She did.

    ==Also not really sure how I feel about the state telling people they are now part of a collective bargaining entity instead of them voting to be a part of one. ==

    They did vote. One group is in (home health care workers), and one group is out (family members caring for family members).


  27. - Toure's Latte - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    To an absurd extreme, one might wonder if public employee union officials dream of the day welfare recipients come to be regarded as state employees required to pay union dues.


  28. - Earnest - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    It’s a more complicated issue than what was presented. There were two groups impacted by the policy recognizing people providing these services as being eligible for union representation. The first group were providers out of the Division of Rehabilitation Services and were all paid a rate determined by the state. The voted in a union to negotiate better salaries. They weren’t and aren’t what most of us would consider state employees–they don’t get paid leave or are eligible for work rules or pensions or insurance or anything like that. They were successful in obtaining increased wages and the number of hours of service available to program participants stayed the same.

    The group of providers exemplified by Pam Harris are out of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. The program sets a monthly amount of money from which the person with the disability (and/or their guardian) can purchase services from an approved list. The rate for the personal care services of which she speaks is set by the individual, not by the state. So, if a union represents this group and negotiates with the state to increase wages, there will be less services available to the participants. (The monthly budget will stay the same, so dividing it by a higher rate will yield fewer hours.) The only payment these providers receive is that rate of pay for hours worked–no state benefits or anything like that. I think Pam Harris is fighting to prevent the union/state from negotiating a salary level that could reduce the amount of services people would be receiving. (Since the rate is set by the individual/guardian, it’s also possible that the rate negotiated could end up being lower than the one a person is currently being paid.)

    I see both sides of the debate, but my empathy is with the families who would see services reduced. The only way a union could make inroads would be to establish themselves not just as representatives of these service providers, but also as someone who would fight to increase the level of services available. Unfortunately AFSCME is perceived over the years as being very effective in their representation of state employees but often at the cost of funding for community-based services, so I can understand why Pam Harris would not want to have to pay any money to them. I’m not meaning to speak in terms of pro or anti union, just from the perspective on someone who knows a number of these families.


  29. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    John Galt

    That is what is so strange about this case. Usually SCOTUS tries to avoid making rulings on anything unless they have to, and then as narrowly as possible. I cannot understand how she can be fighting concerning union dues when she doesn’t pay any. In my view of the law, a person has to have standing in order to have a case to adjudicate. This will be interesting.

    “It’s entirely possible that this gets tossed out on a lack of ripeness claim. OTOH, if it was patently obvious that the case was not yet ripe, you’d think that the SCOTUS would not have granted cert. in the first place.”


  30. - lakecounty - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Does Pamela Harris even have standing in this case? Ten years ago I knew someone who worked in this program. It was dismal for everyone, with huge turnover of caretakers. I would hate to see Illinois go backwards in this area. If you are a baby boomer then you should be shaking in your boots.


  31. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    ===To an absurd extreme===

    When you find yourself writing that phrase, it’s probably best to just stop right there. This ain’t a college dorm room.


  32. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    I heard the Nina Totenberg story on NPR on my drive in this morning. As is typical of her reports, it was an excellent overview.

    I am a union leader and I have struggled with fair share. On the one hand, I am required to represent members of our bargaining unit whether or not they are members. There is a cost to providing that representation and non-members are just as quick to ask for representation as members. And, I have never heard of a non-member turning down a negotiated benefit.

    On the other hand, I think fair share has resulted in some unions and locals being lax in their recruiting efforts. Why take the time to explain the importance of joining the union to new hires when they will pay fair share anyway?


  33. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    The Rauner release also conviently omits that she is not a union member, is not a fair share member, and doesn’t pay any dues.

    “The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in Harris v. Quinn. In the case, Pam Harris is challenging Illinois’ requirements that home care providers are designated as government employees and forced to provide union dues even though they are hired by the individuals for whom they provide care. Moreover, Harris only provides care for her son”


  34. - prisoner of cook - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    If caregivers are employees who are their supervisors and managers? These folks are, if any thing, independent contractors. This is an obvious scam for Quinn to send money to his political supporters at SEIU.


  35. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    From the NPR story:

    “In the 10 years since unionization, however, 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.”

    She is benefiting from the union’s negotiations. She should pay her fair share.


  36. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    Earnest

    I think the issue here is what the Tribune & Rauner chose to highlight as the issue in this case. The fact is that Ms Harris is a party in a group of persons that voted against union representation. Her arguments concerning membership & dues are moot, because they don’t apply to her.

    The rest of the argument is interesting. AFSCME has been organizing care workers. Many of these workers have been mistreated by the agencies or facilities they work for. Some haven’t had any pay increases in nearly a decade. They turned to collective bargaining because they had to. In addition to the cost issue, the quality of care issue also has to be looked at. If you pay nothing, you get nothing. While there are good, caring people working in this field, when you pay cheap you get people that either don’t qualify for other jobs, or can’t stay employed. A friend of mine gets home services therough DORS. His aides last about 3-4 months. Some leave because of low pay. Others get terminated because of misconduct. One of his aides wanted him to falsify her time records.

    “The group of providers exemplified by Pam Harris are out of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. The program sets a monthly amount of money from which the person with the disability (and/or their guardian) can purchase services from an approved list. The rate for the personal care services of which she speaks is set by the individual, not by the state. So, if a union represents this group and negotiates with the state to increase wages, there will be less services available to the participants. (The monthly budget will stay the same, so dividing it by a higher rate will yield fewer hours.) The only payment these providers receive is that rate of pay for hours worked–no state benefits or anything like that. I think Pam Harris is fighting to prevent the union/state from negotiating a salary level that could reduce the amount of services people would be receiving. (Since the rate is set by the individual/guardian, it’s also possible that the rate negotiated could end up being lower than the one a person is currently being paid.)”


  37. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    My god CR, if all those union members were paid minimum wage, do you know how much we’d spend on food stamps? Also, good wages lead to a good economy. No one can buy goods and services when they spend every dime on necessities. If you own a business, I understand payroll is a concern, but if other people’s employees are paid poorly as well, your business won’t have any customers. A healthy middle class supports GSP more than a bunch of businesses who pay pauper’s wages and don’t have any customers.


  38. - olddog - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    === “The Rauner release also conveniently omits …” blah blah blah ===

    Gee, almost makes you think there’s an orchestrated campaign here. Now where might something like that be coming from?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2011/02/18/koch-brothers-behind-wisconsin-effort-to-kill-public-unions/


  39. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    @AFSCME_Steward - Harris is the plaintiff in this case because she is the person suing in Harris v Quinn. If you look at my prior comment on this and any other union issue I think I pretty obviously come down on the solidarity forever side.

    What I mean by Harris being a “sympathetic plaintiff” for SCOTUS to use is that SCOTUS is a political body whether people want to admit it or not and when the court wants to do something radical (like say overturn a pillar of labor law, the Abood decision) its helpful in the court of public opinion if you have a really sympathetic plaintiff to sell why you are overturning something big. Its why when SCOTUS decided to overturn DOMA they made sure the case they used to make that ruling involved an old lady widow trying to get out of paying taxes to the federal govt.


  40. - ANON - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Should check difference between being a Union Member and paying DUES and being a member of a group of individuals and treated as a “Fair Share” “Employee” NOT paying Dues. When I was a state employee, the difference in the portion of my pay that was sent to the Union as “member” and “fair share” was $1 per month. I do not know what it today.
    The statement made by the union representative was correct, even if misleading, that she is not a member, since she pays no dues, and is not required to be a member to receive these funds. Regardless of that fact, a portion of the payment she receives from the state to care for her child is required, against her will, to be paid to a Union under a “fair share” provision.
    On the other hand, if she doesn’t want to pay the required freight required by law, she shouldn’t ask for money from the state to care for HER child as provided by law.


  41. - CollegeStudent - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    === Look at the performance, and quality of life, in right to work states. No contest. ====

    Yeah I know, it’s better up here.


  42. - olddog - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog has posted his analysis of this morning’s oral argument at …

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/01/argument-recap-public-employee-unionism-under-fire/

    Here’s the gist of it: “Aside from what was said explicitly from the bench, the atmospherics of Tuesday’s argument suggested strongly that this case has very large potential. The mood of the Court’s more liberal members was one of obvious trepidation, and that of its more conservative members — except for Justice Scalia — was of apparent eagerness to reach anew the core constitutionality of compulsory union support among public workers.”

    But Denniston’s analysis is subtle, as always, and you need to read the whole thing.


  43. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:13 pm:

    Anon 12:05

    Where did you get this from ? Union dues, including fair share, are paid by the employee. The state only collects union dues as a deduction from the employees’ paychecks. The state does not pay dues on behalf of any employee, fair share or not. When collective bargaining is voted down, there is no fair share.

    ” Regardless of that fact, a portion of the payment she receives from the state to care for her child is required, against her will, to be paid to a Union under a “fair share” provision.”


  44. - Now What? - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    One could argue that this is a complex case, yet, it truly isn’t. Fair Share laws need to be learned/understood for anybody wishing to weigh in on the “merits” of the case. Unfortunately, the Tribauners continue to appeal to the lowest common denominator, stack emotion before law, and ask readers/voters to just act and think accordingly.

    Who’s the thug here?


  45. - Sue - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    whatever the merits or outcome of the case, the real problem with this whole affair is that it exemplifies the “pay to play” unions and politicians engage in- SEIU gave a boatload of campaign money to both Blago and Quinn and it is not hard to imagine the discussions which likely took place when it came time for the Governors to support the Union’s position to classify the home health aides as state employees subject to collective bargaining- Illinois will never resolve its fiscal problems as long as elected officials are beholden to Union leaders whose interests are to get as much money and benefits for their members at the taxpayers expense


  46. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    Rauner got a press release out quickly on this.

    Can we expect one today on his Lason pump-and-dump scam from the Trib?


  47. - Earnest - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    AFSCME Steward, it is an interesting issue, and I do think people confusing the DRS Home Services with the DDD Home Based Services doesn’t help the discussion. I think the potential reduction in services available to their children and the threat (as they see it) of the attempt at another union campaign are their driving forces–they just don’t see why they should be considered eligible for representation.

    In terms of the community agency employees. They are very poorly paid and there is a lot of turnover. Frankly, I think AFSCME should take the same approach they did with the DRS Home Workers–get the state to recognize them in the same way and eligible for wage-related representation. They would also need to advocate the same way as they did with the DRS workers–increased state funding to cover those wages so that services aren’t reduced. Unions have the potential to do a lot of good for community services, but state funding has to go hand-in-hand with wages. A few years ago AFSCME employees were protesting a lack of increases in their contract negotiations with their community agency when the state had made severe funding cuts and state employees doing similar work were receiving regular increases. I don’t mean that to sound critical of AFSCME, I’m just trying to illustrate the perception Pam Harris and others have which makes them resistant.


  48. - Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    Two points. First there is a bit of semantics going on here. Fair share is an amount that is withheld to represent the fair share of costs of collective bargaining. All pay this even if not a member. Union dues for meme era is a higher amount you pay to join. Gives. Prong rights and other stuff. The difference between fair share and union dues is minimal, a few bucks. So she gets money withheld, but they are not dues, it’s fair share.

    Second point. Nonunion state workers have had pay frozen since 2003; been furloughed; no colas, no increase to offset RCA and insurance increases, no merit or annual increases. Union members have gotten annual increases, annual colas etc which offset insurance increases etc. union employees make more today then the did in the past. Nonunion emotes make less today and it goes down every year. Another 2% reduction in July. Anyone who claims they would be fine on there own is plain wrong.


  49. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    Ghost

    Fair share only applies to parties that a majority of the bargaining unit voted for union representation. Since the bargaining unit that Ms Harris is a part of voted against collective bargaining there is no fair share.

    “Two points. First there is a bit of semantics going on here. Fair share is an amount that is withheld to represent the fair share of costs of collective bargaining. All pay this even if not a member. Union dues for meme era is a higher amount you pay to join. Gives. Prong rights and other stuff. The difference between fair share and union dues is minimal, a few bucks. So she gets money withheld, but they are not dues, it’s fair share.”


  50. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    @ConservativeRepublican - I support unions precisely because of the performance and quality of life in anti-union states.

    As for a return to the Lochner era being an absurdum, I can only hope. But this Court has given me little hope for optimism in that regard, especially after reading the excellent recap of arguments from SCOTUSBlog.


  51. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    Quick question: Did the Tribune editorial board write Rauner’s response, or did the Rauner campaign write the Tribune editorial?

    – MrJM


  52. - Pete - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    Why isn’t anyone asking the question, why do state employees NEED to be unionized?

    Are constantly electing poor politicians that require state workers to unionize against woeful working conditions?

    I’m surprised that Henry Bayer would respond that you have a choice. That choice is Join the union if you want to work for the state or don’t work for the state. I’m disappointed that Illinois has to be the state of absolutes. I’m also disappointed that our politicians continue to pass legislation that expands union control through prevailing wage requirements for jobs that can only be accessed through union membership.


  53. - Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    thanks for clarifying afscme steward. And apparently my new autocorrect is more bane then aid.


  54. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    ===That choice is Join the union if you want to work for the state or don’t work for the state.===

    You don’t have to become a full-fledged member, but you also shouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of the union negotiations without paying for it.


  55. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    == You don’t have to become a full-fledged member, but you also shouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of the union negotiations without paying for it. ==

    Totally agree, but it seems to me a group of workers should ask to be be in a union. Didn’t they state basically tell these folks, you are a bargaining unit now go pick representation? I am be recalling this wrong…

    Also it seems that splitting the providers into family member/outside help (and you can declare yourself outside help even if you are a family member) would have been a logical approach.


  56. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    ==…prevailing wage requirements for jobs that can only be accessed through union membership.==

    Actually, prevailing wage benefits union AND non-union workers by ensuring they get paid the established, prevailing wage. The real benefit of prevailing wage is to support LOCAL workers; prevailing wage removes the incentive for low-wage contractors to come in from outside the area and undercut the bids of local contractors who pay the wage that prevails in the local market.


  57. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    Oneman

    In order to be collective bargaining the workers have to vote. Additionally, when I was my job title was added to collective bargaining, I had the choice between 2 unions. Also on the ballot was no representation.

    “Totally agree, but it seems to me a group of workers should ask to be be in a union. Didn’t they state basically tell these folks, you are a bargaining unit now go pick representation? I am be recalling this wrong…”


  58. - Statesman - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    So this is the world post Taft-Hartley. The only difference here is that QUINN sought to payback the reprehensible flukes known as SEIU through his executive order. I love the fact that they have the taj mahal of Union headquarters directly accross the street from the State Capital. It’s indicative of their conflicting self interests with public funds. Hope the SCOTUS rules in favor of Ms. Harris and sends these union lobbyists packing.


  59. - Todd - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    From the SCOTUS Blog. That is what this is all about. Getting from the Court what they can’t get from legislatures around the country and use it as a legal springboard for the private sector RTW issues

    The trend of the argument with Messenger at the lectern appeared to have alarmed Justice Kagan, who said that what was being discussed was “a radical restructuring of the way workplaces are run” throughout the country. She noted the “passion and heat” now spreading across the country — as, for example — in Wisconsin, over the role of public employee unions. She wondered if it was “fair” to suggest that Messenger was actually arguing that a “right-to-work law [that is, no compulsory union support) is constitutionally compelled.”

    Yes, Messenger said, it is, in the public sector.


  60. - Todd - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    RM “You don’t have to become a full-fledged member, but you also shouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of the union negotiations without paying for it.”

    Rich — that is not how it normally works. But 98% of my experiance is from the private sector working under federal law. You see once a bargaining unit is certified, the “union” represents all members/employees of the unit. And those who wish not to be union members, are still entitled to file grieveances, have imput on the contract and representation. They don’t have to pay for the “politcal” and non-bargaining stuff.

    It would make no sense to have two groups doing the exact same thing. group A is prison guards who work alongside Group B but Group B are not union members and then don’t get the same contract, grievence prcedures and the like. They could run down Group B and Group A would be at a dissadvantage for bargaining becuase group B could be cajoled into lower wages, no overtime and such.

    We actually tried filing for a bargaining unit of only those operators that wanted to be members of the union and the NRLB denied it saying that wasn’t how the act works.

    So as far as bargaining units go, it’s all or nothing.


  61. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    “Illinois is union-strangled, and the economy shows it”

    No it doesn’t. Illinois has had economic recoveries and jobs gains in the past when there were more union members. Union participation numbers overall are historically low. Indiana and Michigan just passed right to work laws, and their unemployment rates are worse than the national average:

    http://www.deptofnumbers.com/unemployment/michigan/

    “Look at the performance, and quality of life, in right to work states. No contest.”

    Right to work states have lower pay, do worse in education and have among the lowest rates of people with health insurance. They are also socially regressive. I want to live in a state that supports its unions and is socially progressive, you know, like Illinois is becoming. I also want to live in a state that promotes and offers health insurance.

    We have a bad economy that is caused by a variety of reasons, but looking back through time, there is a pretty clear correlation between stronger economies and higher union participation.


  62. - Pete - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 3:02 pm:

    -Actually, prevailing wage benefits union AND non-union workers by ensuring they get paid the established, prevailing wage.-

    When has non-union workers been allowed on a state contract that is governed by Prevailing wage? I haven’t seen it.

    I’ve seen the inflatable rats on projects where non-union workers are paid prevailing wage or better.


  63. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 3:02 pm:

    So now the ultra conservatives, who are always for states rights, want to bypass states rights if it suits their purposes.

    “Totally agree, but it seems to me a group of workers should ask to be be in a union. Didn’t they state basically tell these folks, you are a bargaining unit now go pick representation? I am be recalling this wrong…”


  64. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 3:04 pm:

    Pete, you answered your own question.

    Take a breath.


  65. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 3:05 pm:

    For some reason my cut & paste of the quote didn’t work. Here is the correct quote for my comment above.

    “She wondered if it was “fair” to suggest that Messenger was actually arguing that a “right-to-work law [that is, no compulsory union support) is constitutionally compelled.”

    Yes, Messenger said, it is, in the public sector.”


  66. - Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    Right to work laws are great if you aspire to turn us into a third world country with sweatshops. Unions formed because left to their own devices management will pay below poverty wages, no benefits and line it’s pockets. Read the jungle for reference material.

    With the decline of the unions we have seen the decline of the middle class. The top .5 percent are increasing their wealth by percentage and the rest of us are declining. Let them eat cake will only last so long. When we decry food and healthcare as something we do not want to provide all; when someone who make 53 million a year thinks it’s unfair to earn more then a poverty rate of pay…. We might as well look to French kings for socioeconomic policy.


  67. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 4:05 pm:

    Pete: State contracts require prevailing wage to be paid. They do not require the workers to be union.


  68. - sal-says - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 4:26 pm:

    “- Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 3:57 pm:”

    Thank you!


  69. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 4:33 pm:

    @Pete:

    What is your problem with prevailing wage?


  70. - Bemused - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 4:38 pm:

    As a former Union Organizer let me chime in on ” Prevailing Wage”. As has already been stated elsewhere, prevailing wage has always been meant as a method to maintain stable wages in a given area. They only pertain to wages paid for on public works projects I.E. taxpayer funded at least in part. Any contractor can bid on these projects as long as they pay the wage rates posted by law for any given region. What some may be unaware of is the prevailing wage includes the costs of benefits such as health insurance and retirement contributions. Let’s say a laborer in a given region is to be paid $30.00 per hour by law. Most Union contractors would pay that as say 18.00 per hour on the check and perhaps 6.00 on health ins and 6.00 into retirement funds. A Non-Union contractor may do the same but in my experience most often do not. Not a problem the Non-Union guy can just pay 30.00 on the check and be in compliance with the law. Now the kicker to all this is I have had workers for the non-union contractors tell me they did not want to unionize because it would result in a loss of take home pay when they did prevailing wage work. It was not so much the dues that were an issue it was the 12.00 or better in Benefits they did not want to pay. My feeling is the benefits were in the long term best interests of both the worker and the State but that is up to each contractor. When wages are held stable the true competition is productivity. The hope is local labor stays put and is able contribute to the local economy. The “RIGHT TO WORK FOR LESS’ is simply a race to the bottom and a way to keep labor down. If the closed shop is not allowed then the non members should not be covered by Union Gains.


  71. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 5:40 pm:

    Bemused

    The problem is that under labor law, the union is required to fully represent everyone that is covered by the contract, even non-members.

    “If the closed shop is not allowed then the non members should not be covered by Union Gains.”


  72. - dave - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 7:01 pm:

    Lets try this again — sorry if this becomes a double post.

    Someone should remind Tom Cross that he voted to codify home care collective bargaining rights in statute, after Blago gave the exec order. Back in 2003.

    http://ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory.asp?DocNum=2221&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=3309&GAID=3&SessionID=3&GA=93&SpecSess=

    Also…for all those talking about pay to play with Blago. How do you explain the near unanimous votes in both the House and Senate codifying the collective bargaining rights?


  73. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 7:29 pm:

    Nina Totenberg wraps it up: http://www.npr.org/2014/01/21/264575979/high-court-considers-legality-of-fair-share-union-fees


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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