U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Decide if Forced Unionization Violates Constitution

Illinois scheme was focus of MCLF amicus brief

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013
Ted O'Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to accept a case involving a forced unionization scheme in Illinois that the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation and two other groups requested that the Court hear. The MCLF, along with The Cato Institute and the National Federation of Independent Business filed an amicus brief in the case on Jan. 4, 2012.

The case was filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of several thousand home-based caregivers in Illinois who were shanghaied into a union simply to pad the political coffers of AFSCME and the SEIU.

“We were in the middle of a similar legal battle here in Michigan at the time and we knew that the same problem was occurring in other states,” said Patrick J. Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “It needs to be settled on a national level and the Supreme Court needs to make it clear that forcing people into a public-sector union against their will simply because a portion of their income is derived from public dollars is unconstitutional.”

The forced unionization of home-based caregivers in Michigan ended last March, but not before the SEIU was able to skim more than $34 million in “dues” from Medicaid checks meant to help our most vulnerable residents. The SEIU had tried to enshrine the scheme in the Michigan Constitution through Proposal 4 on last November’s ballot, but is now under investigation. Prop 4 was defeated by 14 percentage points.

“Unfortunately we’ve dealt with two dubious unionization efforts here in Michigan over the past four years,” Wright said. “Unions for a while captured home-based day care providers. It has occurred in other states and the Supreme Court has seen the value in weighing in on the matter.”

Wright noted that the Justices should rule that forced unionization is unconstitutional because simply receiving public money does not make a person a public employee.

“If the unions can get away with this, then who can’t they unionize? Doctors who accept Medicaid or Medicare? Grocers who accept food stamps? It’s preposterous that a private person could be forced into a public-sector union against their will just because their client receives government aid.”

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. The largest state-based free-market think tank in the country celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.


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