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Cross voted for it before he was against it

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014

* Nina Totenburg reports on yesterday’s US Supreme Court hearing

At issue: whether nonunion members can be required to pay fees to help cover the cost of negotiating a contract from which they benefit.

In Illinois 10 years ago, 28,000 home health workers who care for adults with disabilities approved a union. Since then, hourly wages have nearly doubled, the workers now receive regular training, and they have health insurance. The state says as a result, the workforce has been stabilized and professionalized, and the government has saved money by keeping adults with disabilities in their homes.

Some workers, however, object to paying what is known as “fair share” fees. That is, even though they haven’t joined the union, they are required to pay their fair share of the costs of negotiating and administering a union contract they benefit from. The Supreme Court has long allowed such fees to prevent nonmembers from free-riding on union members’ dues. But in recent years, some of the court’s conservatives have suggested they may be prepared to reverse this long-established principle. And Tuesday’s case presents that opportunity.

The state says it actually has saved $632 million by creating a stable workforce to care for adults with disabilities in their homes instead of nursing homes.
One of the questions before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday is whether non-union members must pay for negotiating a contract they benefit from. […]

And the workers and their patients say the union has transformed a program that previously had been hobbled by rapid turnover.

“I have a son that has cerebral palsy,” said Flora Johnson, a home care worker who serves on the union’s executive committee. “They tried to get me to institutionalize him years ago. But by the union coming in, he got a chance to stay home with his family.”

* LA Times

In its lawsuit, the right-to-work attorneys portrayed the arrangement as a questionable deal between state Democrats led by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and union officials. Alito picked up on the theme.

“Gov. Blagojevich got a huge campaign contribution from the union and, virtually as soon as he got into office, he took out his pen and signed an executive order that had the effect of putting $3.6 million in the union coffers,” Alito told U.S. Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr., who joined in defending Illinois. The judge was referring to the $3.6 million in dues paid to SEIU after home-care providers were organized.

Verrilli denied that partisan politics were at play, noting that a “large bipartisan majority” of the Illinois Legislature voted in favor of the decision to extend union bargaining rights to the home-care providers.

The measure passed 51-2-5 in the Senate (Barack Obama voted “Present,” Dan Rutherford voted “No” and Kirk Dillard voted “Yes”) and 115-0 in the House.

* But Gov. Quinn expanded the scope of that legislation with an executive order in 2009.

In 2009, Governor Pat Quinn issued an executive order directing the State to recognize an exclusive representative for the Disabilities Program personal assistants, if a majority so chose. In a mail ballot election, however, a majority of the approximately 4,500 Disabilities Program personal assistants rejected representation by any union. Nevertheless, a union can request new elections in the future, and, under Illinois labor law, may bypass an election altogether if it collects a sufficient number of union cards from the personal assistants.

In 2010, personal assistants from both groups filed a two-count complaint against the Governor and the three unions involved. The Rehabilitation Program plaintiffs claimed that the fair share fees they were required to pay violated the First Amendment by compelling their association with, and speech through, the union. The Disabilities Program plaintiffs argued that although they did not yet pay fees, they are harmed by the threat of an agreement requiring fair share fees. The district court dismissed the Rehabilitation Program plaintiffs’ claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. It dismissed the Disabilities Program plaintiffs’ claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because they lacked standing and their claims were not ripe.

The Seventh Circuit Decision

Writing for a unanimous panel, Judge Manion held that, with respect to the Rehabilitation Program plaintiffs, the fair-share fees withstand First Amendment scrutiny, in that they are, for First Amendment purposes, identical to the fees upheld by the Supreme Court in Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Educ.

Note that personal assistants from both groups of personal assistants have filed suit. Why is that important? Well, let’s revisit Tom Cross’ press release from yesterday

“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.”

From the bill Rep. Cross voted for in 2003

Provides that a labor organization recognized by Executive Order to represent personal care attendants or personal assistants shall be the exclusive representative of those individuals.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


19 Comments
  1. - ChambanaSlamarama - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    The other bad news is that Cross now has a Democratic opponent who has just announced his campaign. Phew, thought he was going to have a free ride with no opponent there for awhile.


  2. - Roadiepig - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    In Cross’ case, it must have been one of those bills that he didn’t read but voted on anyway. How else can you explain having such a strong opinion against it today, when you were part of a unanimous yes vote for it a decade ago?


  3. - walker - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    ===How else can you explain…?===

    The ideological purity tests required to play with the ILGOP have changed that much in ten years.


  4. - Anon - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    == Illinois´actions are unconstitutional and cannot be allowed to stand.==
    Cross in 2014 commenting on Cross´vote in 2003


  5. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    I have a simple solution for this. Those that object to fair share will be paid what workers received before collective bargaining and will receive all benefits workers received back then. I wonder how many would complain about fair share then ? There are a lot of freeloaders in our society. They want stuff, but don’t want to pay for it. It costs money for union representation. That is why dues & fair share are needed. I would not object if the SCOTUS threw out the fair share provision provided it was with the understanding that if you don’t join the union the state can pay you whatever it wishes, charge you as much as it wants for health care, removes rights to representation at discipline hearings & grievances would only be handled as per the personnel code, not the union contract. If these requirements were in place, there would be no fair share, only members. My view, if you don’t want to pay, you don’t get the benefit. Unfortunately, currently the law requires us to represent members & fair share equally.


  6. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    As I said yesterday, the biggest problem with “fair share” is the lack of transparency on the use of union dues. Right now the “fair share” is whatever the union says it is.

    If a union wants non-union members to pay a “fair share” for representation, then that union’s books should be open to public inspection by anyone so the “fair share” can be easily determined.


  7. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    === The state says it actually has saved $632 million by creating a stable workforce to care for adults with disabilities in their homes instead of nursing homes ===

    And as unionization takes hold, we typically see pay rise. Since labor costs are typically a major factor in such a “business”, at what point does the cost of this care reach a level that nears NH costs and the state sees the previously touted savings shrink to an inconsequential level?

    I know that isn’t totally on point with the discussion but it is a factor that makes the touted savings less of a positive factor in the dismal state fiscal picture.


  8. - Wilbert - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    Did Cross check with Dillard to make sure there’s enough room for him on the Flip-Flop Express?


  9. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    Dupage Dan

    In addition to cost, I think quality of life also needs to be a concern. Having a stable professional care giver system is not only cost effective, but it increases the chances that the person can reside at home with the family, rather than in an institution.

    “And as unionization takes hold, we typically see pay rise. Since labor costs are typically a major factor in such a “business”, at what point does the cost of this care reach a level that nears NH costs and the state sees the previously touted savings shrink to an inconsequential level?”


  10. - dave - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    **at what point does the cost of this care reach a level that nears NH costs and the state sees the previously touted savings shrink to an inconsequential level?**

    NH costs are 2-3 times more than the cost to keep someone in his/her home. The State is a LONG way away from having home care costs approaching the same costs as nursing homes. And nursing home rates don’t just stay flat either.


  11. - Chi - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    RNUG-
    I think you made this point last year or thereabouts and I informed you then, as I will again now:
    Public employee unions must share with their bargaining unit (members and non-members alike) once a year, an audit showing their finances that includes how much money was spent on chargeable and non-chargeable expenses.

    It is not open to the public because, frankly, it’s none of the public’s business. It’s the business of the people in the bargaining unit.


  12. - MrJM - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Has Tom Cross been tested for early-onset Dillarditis?

    – MrJM


  13. - Andrew Szakmary - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Why is it that conservatives consistently object to fair share for union representation when someone accepts a job in a workplace represented by a union, but do not object to homeowner association dues when someone purchases a home in a subdivision that has an association? Intellectually this makes no sense, any more than saying that contractual obligations can be broken when it comes to pension recipients but not bondholders. Methinks conservatives have lost their minds.


  14. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    Chi,

    Sorry, I didn’t remember that but it’s still not an independent audit. My father and grandfather were founders of a union local; I’ve seen how the books can be cooked.


  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    RNUG, things are a lot different now than the old days.


  16. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    Chi and RNUG, if you look around their are posters showing the annual expenditures of the unions. They submit these annualy to be posted in the work place, and it gives decent detail. it shows what they spend on their work force, for political stuff etc etc. what money moves to the national for thier expenses; the expense of the national and so forth.

    I agree with AFSCME Steward, lets get rid of fair share, but also allow the State to pay anyone who is not fair share whatever they like. As I mentioned before the non union folks have had a pay freeze since 2003, and numerous cuts and reductions since then.

    I am all for them not having to pay if the State can lump the non-fair share folks into a seperate grp and treat with them differently.


  17. - Bemused - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 1:32 pm:

    RNUG
    Most if not all of the info you want can be found in fillings by the Unions at USDOL.


  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Alito is the most partisan justice of our times.


  19. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    Thanks for the info. I’ll go look at it.


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