Supreme Court Deems Forced Unionization Unconstitutional

July 2, 2014

Constitutional Labor Law Supporters Celebrate the Impact of Harris v. Quinn in Connecticut

HartfordState Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington) and Representative Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott) today called for union and state officials to immediately halt the forced unionization of family childcare providers and personal care attendants, in recognition of the Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn. The ruling finds that it is unconstitutional to require these individuals to financially support a union. Governor Malloy’s 2011 executive orders established the union representing these private sector care givers, despite significant opposition from both employees and employers.

“This national ruling is a major win for constitutional rights and protections, and will have significant effects in Connecticut,” said Sen. Markley. “Forcing people in the private sector to let a union represent them and bargain on their behalf is not fair to those who wish to remain independent or who disagree with the union’s political affiliations. It’s especially not fair when the governor, not the people, pushes for this organization. The Supreme Court ruling confirms that Governor Malloy instituted an unconstitutional money grab by creating a union.”

“These unions are simply unnecessary and political. The legislature has always had and continues to have the authority to increase funding for these programs. It would be nice to see all of the money go to the beneficiaries for a change,” said Rep. Sampson. “It was an intrusive and unnecessary change to a system that supports so many individuals in the disabled community and families in need. I am pleased to see the Supreme Court’s ruling, which confirms that caregivers who never wanted to be unionized do not have to pay any fees to support these organizations.”

In Connecticut, many opposed the contract between Service Employees International Union District 1199NE and the Personal Care Attendant Workforce Council. The agreement was initiated by Executive Order #9 & #10 handed down several years ago by Governor Dannel Malloy. This contract will drive up the costs of child day care and in-home support services. If the state cannot afford to pay new negotiated wages and benefit increases in the future, Connecticut may eventually have to reduce the number of beneficiaries it supports. This means less people will have access to services which allow them to remain at home.

Cathy Ludlum, who has spinal muscular atrophy and employs 11 personal care attendants, is one of the founders of the Connecticut Association of Personal Assistance and an advocate for people with disabilities. Ludlum joined Sen. Markley and Rep. Sampson at the Capitol for today’s press conference and talked about her experiences.

“Ever since the push for unionization started in 2009, I have feared that employers like me, who have a high level of support hours, would be pushed over the cost caps,” said Ludlum. “I do not want union-sponsored training interfering with my care, and I do not want my employees forced to fund causes they do not support. In the last year, I have hired several new employees, and every one of them expressed dismay when I told them that personal care attendants had been unionized.

“With this ruling, the Supreme Court has recognized that personal care attendants are not state employees, but rather are employees of the people receiving care. This has been a tough battle, but I am committed to continue protecting my employees who do not want to unionize, and to helping people with disabilities maintain a high quality of care and a good life at home,” said Ludlum.

The Harris v. Quinn ruling reaffirms the First Amendment rights of the workers. Prior to this decision, a worker who disagreed with the union view on political questions would still be forced to subsidize it. They would also be denied the First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances on their own, having been forced to allow a union to petition for them.

“The Supreme Court ruling marks a significant change in the way people are allowed to represent and speak for themselves. I hope that this decision guides Connecticut in lifting unconstitutional requirements, and helping restore a system that supports those most in need,” said Sen. Markley

“People who are disabled and employ personal care attendants maintain an important level of independence that allows them to be active community members. They live on their own for less than the state would pay to keep them institutionalized,” said Rep. Sampson. “The governor’s forced unionization challenges a successful system and disregards individual rights. It’s not right, and it’s time to change. ”

In the Harris v. Quinn case, a 5-4 vote by the justices ruled that personal care attendants who were deemed to be state employees in Illinois cannot be forced to pay union dues or nonmember agency fees if they do not wish to join a union. In Illinois, public sector workers are required to pay unions that negotiate their contracts even if they don’t support the unions’ actions.