The Supremes’ Harris Decision: Blow For Liberty And Worker Rights

In contrast to the highly ballyhooed but Much Ado About Nothing Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, the court issued a far more meaningful ruling on forced unionization on the same day.

Paul Kersey at the Illinois Policy Institute explains by email:

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a groundbreaking ruling today on the case of Harris v. Quinn. The court’s ruling states that state governments cannot force-unionize participants in state entitlement programs or force them to pay union dues as a condition of receiving help from the state.

The court’s 5-4 decision was in favor of the plaintiff Pam Harris, a mother from suburban Chicago who takes care of her disabled son and participates in a state Medicaid program. The justices ruled that Medicaid beneficiaries and people participating in state entitlement programs are not state employees, and cannot be forced into a union or forced to pay union dues.

For more than a decade, government unions have been forcing people who are not state workers – moms and dads caring for children with developmental disabilities, home day-care providers for low-income children and others – to pay dues to a union as a condition of receiving help from their state governments. Both Gov. Pat Quinn and now-disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued executive orders allowing the unionization of people who were not state workers. This resulted in Illinois government unions making $20 million a year from these workers, many of whom never wanted to join or pay dues to a union in the first place.

Fortunately, today the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that plaintiff Pam Harris won’t have to jeopardize and limit her son’s care by being forced to join a union she does not want, agree with or support.

Paul Kersey
Director of Labor Policy


Kersey wrote a more detailed op-ed that appeared in USA Today: Workers Handed Victory Over Unions.

This victory is a big step in the right direction. Unfortunately the court did not make the final step of mandating national right-to-work practices and eliminating forced union dues altogether.

It should have. As Kersey explained in his op-ed…

The court could have gone further. Government union bosses want to organize as many people as possible — even those who aren’t government employees — because they can usually force the people they represent to pay union dues. Harris’ attorneys were hoping the court would rule that no government employee can be forced to pay dues as a condition of employment.

The court instead opted for a stern warning that unions have no business extracting dues from people who aren’t even employees. Union officials should take heed: the U.S. Supreme Court is putting more limits on mandatory union dues. Soon, the high court may rightly decide that forced dues are unconstitutional and do away with them entirely.

Congratulations to Pam Harris for her well-deserved victory over union thugs extorting payments from non-employees

Mike “Mish” Shedlock