In a 5-4 decision, the court's conservative majority ruled that simply receiving public aid does not constitute being a public employee and therefore union membership cannot be made compulsory.
The case, Harris v. Quinn was filed by Chicagoland mom Pam Harris after Governor Quinn signed an executive order designating family home health care providers as “public employees” and mandated they pay union dues. Harris cares for her disabled son at home. The Supreme Court's order invalidates the executive order which forced her to pay union dues against her will.
“This scheme, which forced parents and other relatives taking care of persons with disabilities into union political association was a slap in the face of fundamental American principles we hold dear,” stated Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation in a news release. “We applaud these homecare providers’ effort to convince the Supreme Court to strike down this constitutionally-dubious scheme, thus freeing thousands of homecare providers from unwanted union control.”
Some estimates had public employee unions receiving as much as $10 million a year in dues because of the Governor's executive order.
What's unclear is if the ruling will have any impact on public employee unions overall. Illinois is one of more than two-dozen states which requires public-sector employees such as teachers and police officers to join unions and pay union dues. While most do so willingly anyway, the ruling raises questions as to whether those public employees who do not wish to join a union may 'opt-out' on 1st Amendment grounds.