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

9/19/2014 New White House Campaign Seeks to Engage Men and Empower Campus Activists in Fight to End Sexual Assault - President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden today announced the launch of It's On Us, a multi-platform media campaign and national action plan targeted at ending campus sexual assault. . . .
 
9/19/2014 Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership Still Needs Improvements in Human and Workers Rights - Legislators and activists are still concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed regional free trade agreement that addresses a broad range of issues and is currently being negotiated between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations. . . .
 
9/18/2014 UN Ambassador Says the World Needs a "Wake-Up Call" on Ebola Crisis - Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations, says the international community needs a "wake-up call" in the case of the current Ebola outbreak crisis. "This should be a wake-up call for the international community," Power said. . . .