Home Care Workers Vow to Stand Up for Good Jobs and Quality Services in Wake of Harris v. Quinn Ruling
Work with States and Consumers to Ensure a Strong Voice Will Continue
Concord, NH, June 30, 2014 – Today, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Harris v. Quinn. In a 5-4 decision drafted by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the conservative majority of the Court dealt a blow to the partnership forged between the State of Illinois and homecare workers through their union, SEIU Health Care Illinois-Indiana (SEIU HCII). In a closely divided ruling, the conservative wing of the Court overruled the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and held that the First Amendment bars Illinois homecare workers from adopting a fair share requirement (also known as ‘agency fee’) to ensure that everyone shares in the costs of the bargaining. The particular workers affected by this decision have a non-traditional relationship with their employer in Illinois and the court used the term “partial public employees” when referring to them. The workers are jointly employed by the state of Illinois and individual patients for whom they provide care.
This means that traditional public employees can continue to join together in a union and retain the right to negotiate a fair share contract provision.
While there are no such “partial employee” organized workers in New Hampshire, NH labor leaders agree that this is a about attacking workers’ rights.
This case was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an extreme anti-worker group. It is the latest in a decades-long attack on the rights of working people to join together to improve their jobs and the quality of services they provide.
“Any decision that infringes on the rights of homecare workers to join together and make decisions regarding their workplace is bad for the economy, bad for workers and the people they serve, and bad for America,” said Diana Lacey, president of SEIU Local 1984. “As our population ages, providing a stable, qualified workforce that meets the growing need for healthcare is critical to ensuring that New Hampshire seniors receive adequate care. Home care jobs are one of America’s fastest growing industries, yet the average wage for workers is around $21,000 a year.”
“This ruling to allow state-based challenges to the legality of agency fees skirts the question of whether these workers deserve dignity and basic rights on the job and exposes taxpayers to footing the bill for future challenges and litigation,” said Harriett Spencer, Coordinator for AFSCME Council 93.
“AFT-NH members want great neighborhood public schools that are safe welcoming and are fully funded. We want all public schools to have teachers who are well-prepared, well-supported, and who have manageable class sizes and time to collaborate,” said Laura Hainey President of AFT-New Hampshire. “We want our schools to be centers of our communities and to ensure that children and families have access to wraparound services to meet their social, emotional and health needs. We want curriculum that focuses on teaching and learning, not just testing, and that includes art, music and the sciences.”
“When workers can come together and negotiate for better pay, more benefits, and necessary training, turnover goes down, and our elderly receive better care,” said Mark MacKenzie, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “Ensuring that this workforce has a voice on the job and is not mired in poverty is the single best way to guarantee that seniors and people with disabilities can get safe, quality care in their homes.”
“New Hampshire’s workers will not be discouraged,” President MacKenzie continued. “We will continue to fight for improvements in our workplaces. The fate of workers cannot be decided by one Supreme Court decision. It will be decided at workplaces and industries across the country by those who get up every morning and make our country run.”