Home Health Caregivers Might Find Relief from Union Coercion at Supreme Court

Mackinac Center joins groups to call an end to the union dues skim

Photo via Flickr

In Michigan, the dues skim against home-based day care providers like Mackinac Center Legal Foundation clients Sherry Loar, Michelle Berry and Paulette Silverson ended in 2011. A similar skim against home health caregivers like Foundation clients Patricia and Robert Haynes ended in 2013 but only after surviving a 2012 attempt by the Service Employee International Union to constitutionalize the skim.

What definitively ended the skim was the passage of MCL 423.210(e)(i) in 2012, which amended Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act to clarify that neither home-based day care providers nor home health caregivers were “public employees” permitted to engage in mandatory collective bargaining.

Nationally, in 2014, the United States Supreme Court looked at in-home caregivers and held in Harris v. Quinn that as a matter of constitutional law, they could not be charged agency fees by their union. It was hoped that this case would end dues skims nationally. It has not. Instead, lower courts have held that though unions cannot charge home-based day care workers and home health care givers agency fees, they can force them to be members. This despite the dubious nature that those individuals are public sector workers. Thus, where these unions exist, only those “public employees” who can figure out the resignation process can escape paying union dues. Attempts to decertify these unions have proven difficult not due to the workers fidelity to the union, but because the process of identifying the geographically scattered “public employees” and gathering a significant number of signatures from them is a very difficult task. That task was made more difficult in at one state by a successful union-sponsored ballot initiative that the employees cannot be identified through FIOA laws.

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To help end the dues skim nationally, the Mackinac Center and National Federation of Independent Business have signed on to an amicus brief authored by the Cato Institute in the case Hill v. SEIU. The plaintiff in is being represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and contends that Constitution forbids the act of forcing home health caregivers into a public sector bargaining unit. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case and rules in the plaintiff’s favor, then dues skims will end nationally.

On August 4, 2017, the Supreme Court ordered a response to the writ of certiorari thereby indicating that that the case is of some interest to it.

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