In a blatant attempt to circumvent the Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court ruling, the Service Employees International Union has devised a scheme where Illinois home care workers are still required to listen to SEIU officials’ union membership pitch and receive membership cards. These mandatory sessions are paid for by the state of Illinois. The Supreme Court ruled that home care workers cannot be foreced to join a union in order to receive a government stipend. But the state government has kowtowed to SEIU union officials and aided in their campaign to force dues on unwilling workers. Mark Fitton has the story in the Madison Record.
While a suburban Chicago woman’s successful lawsuit against Illinois means home care workers who receive government stipends do not have to join a union, many still must attend training presented by the union.
And those mandatory sessions — which the state funds — devote a half-hour for the union to pitch itself and distribute membership sign-up cards.
Critics say the contractual arrangement between the state and the Service Employees International Union is an obvious “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” deal between elected officials and a union that generously supports them.
In the December 2012 contract between the Illinois Department of Human Services and the union and an accompanying document, the paid training sessions were identified as voluntary.
However, in a December 2013 side letter between IDHS and Service Employees International, the document specifies the sessions are mandatory for both newly hired and “incumbent” members of the bargaining unit.
The contracts also make clear the union will have time for recruiting: “The Union shall have 30 minutes of access to training for the purpose of meeting and talking with Personal Assistants and distributing and collecting membership cards in accordance with current practice. Such time spent shall be unpaid. The state shall furnish the Union with a table at the entrance and exit to all trainings.”
The state is obligated to pay up to $2 million annually to the union for the training sessions, according to the contractual documents of 2012 and 2013.
Are those personal health care assistants exempted by the Supreme Courts’ Harris v. Quinn decision compelled to attend the sessions and the half-hour union pitches?
For the most part, yes, said Bill Messenger, the National Right to Work Committee lawyer who represented the plaintiffs in Harris v. Quinn.
He said that although personal assistants can no longer be forced to join the union or pay agency fees, they are still considered members of the bargaining unit. As such, the training sessions, including the union pitch, are mandatory.
A Sept. 26, 2014, letter sent to home service providers by the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Rehabilitation Services notified personal assistants of their obligation to attend.
“You have been identified as an Individual Provider (IP) currently working for a customer of the Division of Rehabilitation/Home Services Program (HSP). HSP is committed to ensuring high quality customer care and services to our customers. As a result, your are required to participate in mandatory PAID training about Fraud, Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and the Basics Roles of being an Individual Provider.
“Please note that your contract as an IP employed by a Customer in HSP requires your mandatory participation.”