Workers will take their case to the Supreme Court to recoup dues money
Some home health care workers in Illinois are suing the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for $30 million in forced dues money they feel they are owed. After being denied in federal court, the workers are now looking to take their case to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that forced union dues from government agencies infringe on the First Amendment rights of workers. The Illinois workers were entitled to recoup the money, according to a federal appeals court, but the class action suit they filed was not an appropriate vehicle.
"We agreed with the putative class that no one could be compelled to pay fair share fees," the court said in a ruling. "Janus does not require a different result on the narrow question presented in our appeal, namely, whether the class-action device is the proper one for the Assistants to use in seeking refunds of fair-share fees."
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which successfully argued the Janus case before the Supreme Court and represents the Illinois healthcare workers, said it will ask the justices to review the 7th Circuit decision. The Supreme Court asked the appellate judges to review its previous dismissal of the class action suit following its June decision. Foundation spokesman Patrick Semmens said the court needs to rectify the multi-million dollar fraud.
"As part of a backroom deal with disgraced former Illinois governor Blagojevich SEIU bosses seized over $32 millions dollars out of the pockets of tens of thousands of home care providers, and this ruling denies the victims of this scheme long overdue justice," Semmens said.
The 7th Circuit did not dispute the Supreme Court's Janus ruling. The three judge panel affirmed a lower court ruling that the workers in the class lacked the similar interests or harm to constitute a class.
"The answer to the central question that remains – how much money each individual class member is entitled to recoup – is particularly ill-suited for class treatment, because it depends on a myriad of factors particular to each individual worker," the 7th Circuit ruled.
The windfall given to SEIU by former governor Blagojevich was certainly corrupt. The workers were not members of the union, but because SEIU negotiated on their behalf, they were forced to pay up. The workers never asked for SEIU's assistance, nor did most of them agree with the radical union's politics.
But how else can they recover the money? Suing individually will take years, and SEIU will be sure to draw out the legal proceedings. So the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation will ask the Supreme Court to reverse the appeals court's decision and allow the class action suit to move forward.
Since the Janus decision, public unions have been hurt but, as expected, are doing fine. The scare tactics of those who said the decision would destroy public unions hasn't worked. These home health care workers – among the lowest paid workers in the state – deserve their day in court against the SEIU, and the Supreme Court should give it to them.