June 30, 2014

In Harris v. Quinn, "The Court recognizes a category of 'partial public employees' that cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees."

That report, from SCOTUSblog, make it sound like a minimalist result, not the "kill shot" to unions that we were discussing here yesterday.

Here's the full opinion. It's written by Alito and 5-4, in the usual 5-4, conservatives-and-liberals split.

ADDED: The majority opinion discusses a set of precedents that I won't attempt to summarize. It criticizes the precedents for failing to recognize the difference between public and private sector unions:
In the public sector, core issues such as wages, pen­sions, and benefits are important political issues, but that is generally not so in the private sector.
For this reason, the money extracted from nonmembers to cover the work on their behalf by the unions can't so easily be called nonpolitical, so the problem of compelled speech can't be avoided by saying that only part of the union dues pays for political speech. It's all political:
Collective  bargaining concerns the union’s dealings with the employer; political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government.  But in the public sector, both collective­ bargaining and political advocacy and lobbying are di­rected at the government.
AND: It sure was political — salary, pensions, health insurance — here in Wisconsin. It was the most political thing I'd seen in 30 years of living in Wisconsin. (Not that the Supreme Court case mentions Wisconsin.)

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm going to gloat here, and say "I called it" last night.

Although I would have been happier with a complete toss of Abood

PB said...

I think it sets up the kill shot, leveraging Beck and other rulings.

chickelit said...

That report, from SCOTUSblog, make it sound like a minimalist result, not the "kill shot" to unions that we were discussing here yesterday.

The result is perhaps not a "kill shot" for unions but instead creates a new "kill list:" a newly recognized class of "partial public employees" to freeze, personalize, and polarize.

Original Mike said...

So the Union power grab failed.

garage mahal said...

Does this ruling piss off libtards? That's all I really need to know.

Thorley Winston said...

Looks like a gut shot rather than a head shot - the result is usually the same but it hurts a lot more and longer.

holdfast said...

I am sure it was minimalist, in order to get squishes Kennedy and Roberts on board. And that's ok - the Court should be answering the questions put to it. Personally, I'd like to see public sector unions have a lot less power, but that should mostly be accomplished through legislation, not the courts.

tim maguire said...

Good to see the court recognize the difference between public sector unions and private sector unions. I'd rather see an outright ban on public sector unions, but if non-members can't be compelled to pay dues (and people can't be compelled to join), that would amount to the same thing.

lemondog said...

...so the problem of compelled speech can't be avoided...

Althouse 'compelled speech' comment grabbed my attention.,

Any 'nutshell' overview of the dissenters opinion?

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about why it's all or nothing. I can see why some businesses would like to negotiate "just once" - but unique relationships with sub-groups of employees have been a fact of life since the 70s and the emergence of cheap data-processing.

If a workplace has 1 in 10 workers as members of a union they arguably have more negotiating power than singletons, and in the extreme we have the "agent" model like we see in entertainment and sports - where presumably contracting is so specialized it's worth sharing 20% of your income with an expert.

Rather than the death of unions / agents - perhaps it'll start a rebirth - creating better employees and workplaces because they've been coached if not represented by these experts in increasing their productivity and value to their employers over their non-represented peers.

Ok.. but only half-in-jest. Imagine a world with rent-seekers transformed into value-creators.

Matt Sablan said...

This is a pleasant surprise, especially with a lot of the other decisions recently.

Paco Wové said...
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virgil xenophon said...

Original Mike is dead on here. This was a BLATANT power-grab over a HUGE and GROWING sub-set of the population as our nation ages, yet increasingly more people cannot afford institutionalized care and thus opt for the home health option. The shear affrontery in press-ganging family members (in many cases) assisting in care of sick relatives into so-called "unions" against their will and calling them "union employees" and requiring union dues--from federal money meant for the sick--took a Lake-Superior-sized vessel full of unmitigated gall. Worse, the State Legislatures and governors of states like CA and Ill bought into this fraud--if only for the union kick-back money that was in it. A sad commentary on the morality of government in society today..

Salamandyr said...

I get the worry about "judicial activism", but, if the liberal extremists on the Court won't go along with a compromise anyway, why bother with these hair-splitting decisions that don't actually resolve the problem?

Did this decision do anything but muddy the waters regarding public sector unions and their lobbying efforts? This question seems directly within the Court's purview to decide, but they didn't decide it. They let it continue stinking up the place until another case comes along where that requires them to make the decision they should have made in this one.

rhhardin said...

It would be nice, while they're discovering principles, if they discovered that unions are unconstitutional.

You can't get more rights against a third party (the employer) than you already have individuslly against him.

In particular you can't force him to negotiate with you instead of hiring who he wants.

Ox said...

Ann, I think you accidentally linked the PDF of the Hobby Lobby opinion when you meant to link the Harris v. Quinn opinion. Here's the proper link.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/11-681_j426.pdf

libertariansafetyguy said...

The thing I love about this decision is that it makes it very difficult for public unions to fight back. If they attempt to get different laws passed, that's political and those paying their "fair share" and attack that activity as political speech. The more the unions fight, the more political speech they create, enforcing the concept that those not in the union are having their "fair share" dues used for political speech. Pretty awesome!

Anthony said...

Ann - sincere legal question here: Would it be legal for a public agency to maintain two separate pay scales - one for unionized workers, and one for those who did not join the union?

If so, there's no legitimate reason for agency fees. If not, there's a constitutional question wrapped up in the question "why not?".

tim in vermont said...

'Does this ruling piss off libtards? That's all I really need to know' -Garage

An honest statement at last.

who-knew said...

This is the price of union overreach. If they hadn't tried to extort money from people who clearly were not state employees, there never would have been a court case.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...


The Dems in Illinois wanted a slice of the Medicaid checks going to parents of invalid children. Solution, reclassify them as employees rather than previously as independent contractors. Then hold an organizing election by a Dem friendly union where only a tiny fraction those workers vote. Shabby indeed.

Since the employer was the state, the onion is really nothing but a lobbyist.

Lance said...

In particular you can't force him to negotiate with you instead of hiring who he wants.

That's not a problem with unions per se, just with Socialist-style unions (e.g. Wagner Act).

Richard Dolan said...

A relatively narrow decision, but with some larger implications. The Court holds that Abood v. Detroit doesn't apply and that there are many reasons not to extend its holding to personal assistants who, in all respects save collective bargaining, are not public employees under state law.

With Abood out of the way, the remaining issue is whether there is a compelling state interest served by forcing these plaintiffs to support an organization that they do not want to support.

The only two state interests that the Court's prior decisions recognize in this area are preventing 'free riders' and preserving labor peace. Neither applies, says the Court. The plaintiffs aren't free riders because the way the state program is set up, all of the usual subjects of collective bargaining are not open to be the subject of such bargaining here -- precisely because the plaintiffs are employed by the individual needing their home health care services, not the state. The only subjects on which the union could represent the plaintiffs are with respect to conditions of their employment with the state, and those are essentially non-existent in this set-up.

As for labor peace, these plaintiffs work either in their own home or in the home of the person receiving their services. Plaintiffs don't have any co-workers, in any realistic sense, with whom a dispute might arise about whether the union and all its works are a good or a bad thing. Thus there is no way that 'labor peace' in some imaginary workplace could be impacted by respecting plaintiffs' First Amendment right not to associate with the union or to support its ideological positions by paying forced dues.

By its terms the decision only governs individuals in the peculiar category of non-state employees who are nevertheless paid by the state for their services to private individuals. Perhaps there are workers other than home health aides or foster parents that fall into that category, but it is still a relatively small niche. The larger implications of this case come from the Court's comments to the effect that Abood's acceptance of the union shop in the context of regular public employment has a shaky foundation when measured against the dissenting employees' First Amendment rights not to associate with the union or support its ideological and political activities. No doubt, future cases will test just how shaky that foundation is.

Alex said...

garage - tell us. You're our resident libtard.

Anonymous said...

This constant chipping away at the power of Unions and this particular Democrat funding machine is good news.

Drago said...

garage is very very very upset that his union pals are now unaable to show up at some family's doorstep where family members are taking care of their disabled/special needs family members and demand some of that family's money.

Garage needs more free stuff and he knows that unions help him get more free stuff.

If that means shaking down family members who are caring for each other then who cares?

Besides, union bosses need more vacation homes.

Unknown said...

The frightening thing is that there are four justices who were totally fine with this (you see the same on Hobby Lobby). As far as these four are concerned, there is nothing the government can't do, no right it can't trample on -- other than interfering with the right to an abortion or to a gay marriage. It must be nice to know that four votes are (almost) always in the bag for governmental overreach.

I do wonder why these four ever bother to write a detailed dissenting opinion. Why not just write "I don't approve of the result" and leave it at that? Would save a lot of time.

Anonymous said...

Anthony said...

Ann - sincere legal question here: Would it be legal for a public agency to maintain two separate pay scales - one for unionized workers, and one for those who did not join the union?

If so, there's no legitimate reason for agency fees. If not, there's a constitutional question wrapped up in the question "why not?".


No, they can't, and no, they shouldn't be able to.

It is the unions that demand the power to "represent" everyone, because if they don't have that, all the valuable employees can ditch the union and negotiate better deals for themselves, leaving the union only the losers. Any time the unions are ready to give that up, we'll be happy to "free" them from the "cost" of supporting the "free riders".

For the unions to whine about the "costs" of a rule that they demand is really an amazing bit of chutzpa.

Anonymous said...

Unions should be banned, doesn't matter if they are public sector or private. A collective has far too much power in bargaining for it to be considered "fair". Hopefully Walker will make it extremely difficult for private unions to be formed as well. Otherwise our state is doomed.

And same thing with corporations - capital should not be allowed to come together as a collective either. Just like with the unions, it gives far too much power to corrupt bosses and thugs.

All workers should speak for themselves, and all companies should be owned by an individual. That way, when employer and employee sit down to bargain it is one on one, and everything is fair.

Anonymous said...

Would it be legal for a public agency to maintain two separate pay scales - one for unionized workers, and one for those who did not join the union?

Doesn't matter if it is legal or not, that is exactly what is happening in Wisconsin.

Act 10 is working as intended.

Anonymous said...

The Illinois law as written specifically stated that the home care workers were considered state employees only for representation and were not state employees under any other circumstances.

Bumsurf said...

My wife, a staunch conservative, works for a California school district and has $1K a year deducted from her salary and transferred to the California Teachers Association who, in turn, finances and supports only liberal/Democrat causes and candidates. If she had the option she'd tell the CTA to stick it.

John henry said...

What the heck is a "partial public employee"? Is this a legal term or just something made up by the Supremes?

I've been studying, doing and teaching HR Management since 1974 and have never heard of this before.

One can either be an employee or a contractor and there is a 25 part test from IRS to determine which one is.

In the oral arguments the Illinois lawyer said that the providers were "employees" (in the legal sense) but of the individual patient, not of the state. The state acted as a "paying agent" (the lawyer's word) disbursing the patient's medicaid funds to the provider.

They did withold taxes, FICA, workers comp and so on. Much the same as ADP dos when processing payroll for many companies.

It seems to me analogous to carpenter's. Their union negotiates a contract with various employers who agree to hire only union members and pay union wages.

To complete the analogy, each patient would have to sign a contract, as an employer, with the SEIU.

I am OK with the results of the decision but I think the way they got there was messed up.

John Henry

Sunslut7 said...

Interesting as more of the US labor market gravitates to a just-in-time semi-permanent /proto-fulltime labor force. A labor cadre of workers employed in multiple jobs for durations of less than 40 hours per week, the SCOTUS decides to impose or recognize an exception to the labor union rules set forth in Abood. Is this a set-up shot at Abood? IS the SCOTUS allowing the dinosaur's nose into the tent?

Curious George said...

Ah, it's a good day to be a billionaire plutocrat. a very good day indeed!

Doug said...

I heard on NPR today that Honda Motor Company now makes more Hondas in the U.S. than it does in Japan. I wonder how many are made in the rust belt?

Ignorance is Bliss said...
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Mrs Whatsit said...
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Marc said...
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Matt said...
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Skeptical Voter said...
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Drago said...

John said...
What the heck is a "partial public employee"? Is this a legal term or just something made up by the Supremes?

It appears that the Supremes have identified a separate category of state employees who really aren't full-time state employees but who do provide a service and receive a federal and or state subsidy for providing that service.

The only other option was to say that these individuals providing the service are the same as full-time state employees (which they aren't) and thus, are then forced into a public sector union.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry. I accidentally deleted a whole lot of comments. Am trying to restore them all. If I miss one of yours, please repost.

Mrs. Whatsis said: "Bumsurf: as you may already know, if your wife hasn't joined the union, she can have the share of her dues that's (at least theoretically) allocated to political activities refunded by sending a "Hudson" notice demanding it. That's what I did with the public sector union where I work."

B said...

madisonfella said...Unions should be banned, doesn't matter if they are public sector or private....

Moby

Curious George said...

"OpenID madisonfella said...
Would it be legal for a public agency to maintain two separate pay scales - one for unionized workers, and one for those who did not join the union?

Doesn't matter if it is legal or not, that is exactly what is happening in Wisconsin.

Act 10 is working as intended."

What a bunch of fucking bullshit. This is not happening, nor is intended to under Act 10.

Drago said...

B: "
madisonfella said...Unions should be banned, doesn't matter if they are public sector or private....

"Moby"

Curious George (to madisonfella): "What a bunch of fucking bullshit. This is not happening, nor is intended to under Act 10."

Just like the other day when Ann pointed out how the left purposely twisted the Scott Walker-BS "investigation" reports followed by the purposeful mis-characterization of George Wills article, we now see madisonfella constructing strawmen as fast as his little fingers can type because the truth simply doesn't comport with the leftists BS.

Lefties are running around on other sites screaming about how this ushers in some weird Sharia-like scenario for women.

Which is funny, because according to the left there is absolutely nothing to fear from a sharia outcome.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of fucking bullshit. This is not happening, nor is intended to under Act 10

Non-union prison guards in Wisconsin received a pay raise several months ago while prison guards that are members of a union did not. The union workers have been told that they can also get a raise, with back pay, if they decide to vote out their union.

That is what Act 10 is designed to do. The law makes it illegal for a union worker to get any pay raises beyond the rate of inflation, yet non-union workers have no such limits and thus have received pay raises of anywhere from 2%-33%.

One of the main purposes of Act 10 was to "divide and conquer" (Scott Walker's exact words) the public sector employees, and so far it is working as intended. Hopefully Walker goes after the police and firefighter unions next, and then ban organized labor in the private sector as well. The reason the state's economy is in the crapper is because of high labor costs. We must compete on a global scale. The only way businesses will thrive is if wages are depressed even further then they currently are, and organized labor is standing in the way of us reaching that goal. These selfish union workers should be happy to even have a job, no matter what the pay is.

James Pawlak said...

Some call it treason.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry about the comments I failed to recover.

Please don't take it personally. I deleted 50 posts that were all in a row. I had nothing to do with the content.

Birkel said...

Completing "madisonfella"'s comment:

And that is why President Obama and I both support the addition of tens of millions of low-skill illegal immigrants breaking U.S. Laws.

Wow! It cannot organize its thoughts to see it is confused, stupid or an intentional dupe! As I live and breathe...

Rusty said...




Blogger Ann Althouse said...
Sorry about the comments I failed to recover.

Please don't take it personally. I deleted 50 posts that were all in a row. I had nothing to do with the content.

damn it Althouse! Wear your glasses.

Curious George said...

"OpenID madisonfella said...
Non-union prison guards in Wisconsin received a pay raise several months ago while prison guards that are members of a union did not. The union workers have been told that they can also get a raise, with back pay, if they decide to vote out their union.

That is what Act 10 is designed to do. The law makes it illegal for a union worker to get any pay raises beyond the rate of inflation, yet non-union workers have no such limits and thus have received pay raises of anywhere from 2%-33%.

One of the main purposes of Act 10 was to "divide and conquer" (Scott Walker's exact words) the public sector employees, and so far it is working as intended. Hopefully Walker goes after the police and firefighter unions next, and then ban organized labor in the private sector as well. The reason the state's economy is in the crapper is because of high labor costs. We must compete on a global scale. The only way businesses will thrive is if wages are depressed even further then they currently are, and organized labor is standing in the way of us reaching that goal. These selfish union workers should be happy to even have a job, no matter what the pay is."

Again, this is bullshit. Can you provide any proof to this?

Original Mike said...

"I deleted 50 posts that were all in a row."

Touchscreen accident?

Anonymous said...

Can you provide any proof to this?

Are you saying it is all bullshit because you have information that shows it to be untrue, or are you simply refusing to believe it because you don't want to believe it?

And what part are you even disputing? Are you saying that Act 10 wasn't actually passed into law? Are you disputing that Scott Walker is on video saying his plan is to "divide and conquer" the public sector workers? Are you claiming it is bullshit that there are even prison guards in Wisconsin? Or are you saying there is no way in hell that there is a different process when it comes to pay raises for union workers and non-union workers?

When you dismiss an entire comment as total bullshit, with nothing else said on your part, you come across more as a partisan troll and less as someone who in engaged in a good faith discussion. Much like Birkel/Rusty/Drago, your goal seems to be shouting down the discussion rather than having an actual conversation about events that are occurring.

If you are sincere in wanting to learn more then here you go:

Union guards in Wisconsin prisons shouldn't have to wait to get the 1% raise being given to other state workers starting on Sunday, a labor leader argues in a letter to Gov. Scott Walker.

But a spokeswoman for the Walker administration responded that the raise won't be provided for now because the workers' union status is currently under dispute.

There is a separate process for giving raises to union and non-union state employees.

If the workers are found not to belong to a union in the coming weeks, "then those employees would get a lump-sum payment back to June 29 because the employees would now be covered under the compensation plan, which gives the 1% general wage adjustment," Marquis said in an email.


http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/state-prison-guards-demand-1-raise-they-say-is-overdue-b99298286z1-264447291.html

John henry said...

Don't really know what is going on with the union guards but if the union has negotiated a contract with the government that contract is binding.

If the contract called for a 1% or a 10% or a 0% raise, that is what the employer (state) is obliged to give them.

Non-union members can be given whatever raise is appropriate.

Blame the union contract, not the state.

I am pretty conversant with the law regarding unions, NLRA, NLRB etc. Govt unions are outside of the purview of NLRA. Relations with govt unions have all sort of funkiness that I am not familiar with.

For example, if there is a union contract in a private company, everyone in the bargaining unit is covered. Apparently in WI only union members are covered by the contract?

John Henry

Anonymous said...

Blame the union contract, not the state.

You must not be familiar with Act 10. The State of Wisconsin has banned practically everything from being in a public sector union contract. The only thing allowed by law to be in the contract is a pay increase that can not be higher than the rate of inflation.

This union shouldn't be blamed for the contract itself, rather they are dumb for even trying to negotiate a contract at all under those conditions. As it stands right now, the state is telling them to quit their union if they want any pay raise at all.

richardsson said...

I wonder if college adjuncts at state institutions might be covered by the same reasoning. Adjuncts get very little benefit (health care benefits, retirement) from union representation the dues for which are still deducted from their pay.