The drama surrounding the implementation (or lack thereof) of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn decision in Washington continues to unfold.
In its decision, the court ruled that Illinois home health care aides receiving state Medicaid subsidies and represented by the SEIU could no longer be forced to pay union dues against their will. Previously, the state had automatically deducted union dues from personal assistants’ paychecks and sent the funds to the SEIU.
Technically, no one can be forced to be a “member” of a union, but in Washington, individual home health care providers are represented by SEIU Local 775 and have full dues deducted from their Medicaid reimbursements whether they sign up for union membership or not.
In light of the Harris decision, SEIU 775 is ceasing to deduct any dues from member and nonmember providers who ask the union to do so. However, as we reported last week, the SEIU is seeking to deceptively get nonmembers to sign a membership form that would (1) allow the union to continue deducting full dues, (2) prevent the provider from opting out of union membership except during an arbitrary 15-day window each year, and (3) waive the providers’ rights to sue the union for its unconstitutional actions under Harris.
The Freedom Foundation recently obtained another letter sent from SEIU 775 to both member and nonmembers home care providers. After touting the benefits of the union for five pages, the mailing concludes with the following “legal notice”:
In light of the legal uncertainty created by the United State Supreme Court’s June 30, 2014 decision in Harris v. Quinn, pending further review the Union is not at this time requiring that you provide any financial support for the Union… If you tell us you don’t want to support the Union financially, you will not be charged any Union dues or fees, but deciding to withdraw from membership means you will lose all rights to vote for your employment contract, for or against dues increases, and in Union officer elections. Less than one half of one percent of caregivers have chosen to give up their rights and withdraw from membership. If you do not respond to this notice, we will take it to mean you wish to provide financial support to the Union and will be charged through a payroll deduction. [Emphasis added]
Apparently, to SEIU 775, silence means consent. As the Washington Policy Center’s Jason Mercier has pointed out, the state and the SEIU are already battling litigation seeking to get the Harris decision applied in Washington. The mailing is yet another SEIU gimmick designed to try and shield itself from legal liability for its unconstitutional actions.
The provider who sent the mailing to the Freedom Foundation almost threw the high-gloss piece away it looked so much like other junk mail. If any other business venture treated people this way, consumers would be outraged.
Imagine receiving a promotional magazine in the mail with a similar notice. Unless you immediately told the publisher to stop sending you the magazine, it would direct your employer to start automatically deducting the cost of your new subscription from your monthly paycheck. And once in, you could only cancel your subscription during a 15-day period each year. But don’t worry: The publisher is convinced you will enjoy the magazine.
There is nothing wrong with home care providers voluntarily choosing to participate in the union and pay dues, but at the end of the day, the dictates of both the court’s ruling in Harris and common sense mean that SEIU 775 should only be able to collect dues from those providers who voluntarily authorize it. Providers should not have to opt out of the automatic dues deductions during arbitrary windows set by a union desperate to preserve its unearned revenue stream.