BREAKING: Supreme Court delivers major blow to government unions, Gov. Pat Quinn in Harris v. Quinn decision

June 30, 2014

Supreme Court rules Illinois Govs. Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich were wrong to force-unionize people who are not state workers, such as parents taking care of children, with disabilities in Medicaid

CHICAGO (June 30, 2014) – The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a groundbreaking ruling today on the case of Harris v. Quinn. The court’s ruling states that state governments cannot force-unionize participants in state entitlement programs or force them to pay union dues as a condition of receiving help from the state.

In 2009, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn issued an executive order that said a group of Illinois residents who participate in a state Medicaid program for the developmentally disabled would be considered state workers for the sole purpose of unionization. Government unions would then be able to force participants in this program to pay union dues as a condition of receiving help from the state.

The court’s 5-4 decision was in favor of the plaintiff Pam Harris, a mother from suburban Chicago who takes care of her disabled son and participates in a state Medicaid program. The justices ruled that Medicaid beneficiaries and people participating in state entitlement programs are not state employees, and cannot be forced into a union or forced to pay union dues.

The Illinois Policy Institute’s Director of Labor Policy, Paul Kersey, issued the following statement on today’s ruling:

“Today’s decision delivers a major blow to the public employee unions in Illinois and nationally, and is good news to people like suburban Chicago mom Pam Harris.

“For more than a decade, government unions have been forcing people who are not state workers – moms and dads caring for children with developmental disabilities, home day-care providers for low-income children and others – to pay dues to a union as a condition of receiving help from their state governments. In Illinois, both Gov. Pat Quinn and now-disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued executive orders allowing the unionization of people who were not state workers. This resulted in government unions making $20 million a year from these workers, many of whom never wanted to join or pay dues to a union in the first place.

“But fortunately, today’s ruling strikes down those executive orders. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that plaintiff Pam Harris – a suburban Chicago mother trying to care for her disabled son – will not have to jeopardize and limit his care by being forced to join a union she does not want, agree with or support.

“The attempts by Quinn and Blagojevich to unionize Medicaid recipients were motivated by greed and politics, not by an interest in helping Illinois families. Luckily, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the families in Illinois and nationwide who are fighting to take care of their loved ones.”

TAGS: Harris v Quinn, Pam Harris, Pat Quinn, SCOTUS, SEIU: Service Employees International Union, U.S. Supreme Court