The Blog

Harris V Quinn Decision Silences Workers' Voices

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Harris v. Quinn along the narrow scope of the original case. In the 5-4 decision, the high court ruled that eight Illinois home health-care workers cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority: "Because of Abood's questionable foundations ... we refuse to extend Abood to the new situation now before us," Alito wrote. "If we allowed Abood to be extended to those who are not full-fledged public employees, it would be hard to see just where to draw the line, and we therefore confine Abood's reach to full-fledged state employees."

We believe everyone benefits from working together in the union, so everyone should contribute a fair amount to pay for the value they receive. At issue in this case was whether non-union members could reap the wages, benefits and protections negotiated in a collectively bargained contract without needing to pay their fair share.

Harris v. Quinn was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW), a political group whose extreme agenda seeks to weaken the power of working people. This extreme anti-worker group is funded by billionaires like Charles Koch and the Walton family. This case 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.

“This decision really goes to the heart of two big concerns in America. First, do we truly care about seniors and people with disabilities, and second, are we going to seriously take on the issue of income inequality? That is what’s really at stake here, and the systematic attack on working people is pushing us in the wrong direction on both fronts. We stand strong with our brothers and sisters in Illinois and across this great nation as the corporate forces behind state and national efforts take aim at the rights and values of middle class families.” - CTA President Dean Vogel in a statement to the media today.

The National Education Association, joined by California Teachers Association and Change to Win, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to expose the truly radical nature of NRTW’s arguments and underscore their audacious claim that public-sector collective bargaining itself is constitutionally suspect. Employers and states have also filed in support of fair share arrangements because they know they serve to stabilize the workforce, improve the quality of training and support for workers and most importantly improve the quality of care and services that people receive. 

While NEA and CTA narrowly escaped the loss of fair share fees, other cases are in the pipeline to strip unions of rights set forth in Abood. "The corporate forces behind these state and national efforts have a lot of money, but we have the spirit and the numbers and a court case will not change our resolve," said Vogel. "Today, we are more resolute than ever that joining together against these ill-intended forces is the best way to fight for our students, keep our communities safe, and ensure good jobs and freedom in our workplaces. We will not give up fighting for the rights of our students and members, their families, and our middle class brothers and sisters."

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