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Jan 24

Defending Freedom of Association: Harris v. Quinn and Challenges to Compulsory Unionization

The State of Illinois runs a Medicaid-waiver program that pays for in-home care for certain disabled individuals. The state designates these home care providers as state employees for collective bargaining purposes only and forces them to financially support the Service Employees International Union as their exclusive bargaining representative. Some of these home care providers have challenged this compulsory unionization as violating their freedom of association under the First Amendment. A federal court ruled that existing Supreme Court precedent that allows the unionization of true public employees controls these home care providers. In the 1977 decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court determined that a state has an interest in maintaining labor peace within its workplace, and that interest justifies requiring public employees to deal with their employer through a single, designated representative. But the home care providers in Illinois argue that Abood was wrongly decided and it does not apply to them because they work in the homes of private individuals—not a state workplace. This case offers the Supreme Court an opportunity to further define the relationship between compelled union support and the First Amendment. What are the potential implications for unions? How did the Supreme Court come to sanction such a narrow view of employees’ First Amendment rights? What are the ramifications of a decision applying the normal First Amendment scrutiny to labor law? Our panel of experts will address these important and timely issues.

More About the Speakers

Andrew Grossman
Associate, Baker Hostetler 

William Messenger
Counsel for Pamela Harris Staff Attorney, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation 

James Sherk
Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics, The Heritage Foundation

Hosted By

John Malcolm John Malcolm

Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, and the Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow Read More