Friday, October 3, 2014
Public Sector Agency Fees
Harris v. Quinn, 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Harris v. Quinn, 573 U. S. ____ (2014) creates a situation where only full-fledged public employees must pay agency fees, thereby exacerbating the problem of free riders obtaining rights bargained for by their labor representatives without having to pay towards any of the costs. In this case, the Court found that Illinois' Public Labor Relations Act which permitted union security agreements violated the First Amendment. The case involved personal assistants who had voted to have a labor organization represent them as their exclusive bargaining representative. Both the State and the individuals receiving care from the personal assistants had a role in the employment relationship. The recipients of the services defined the personal assistants’ duties and controlled their hiring, firing, training, supervising, and disciplining. However the State paid the personal assistants through medicaid. The Court found that because of this, the personal assistants were not full-fledged employees of the State and could not be required to pay public sector agency fees for the bargaining activities performed on their behalf.
As a result of this decision, organized labor can expect that the assault on public sector labor unions will continue.