Some Home Care Workers May Avoid Bargaining Fees, Court Rules

The Supreme Court ruled that in-home care workers, who are paid by the state, are not similar enough to government employees to have to pay fees that help cover the costs of collective bargaining.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's turn now to NPR's Cheryl Corley in Chicago. She's been listening to a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that non-union home healthcare workers no longer have to pay union fees.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: In a large room at Access Living, a disability rights organization in Chicago, there was plenty of criticism about the ruling. Michael Grice lost his legs in a motorcycle accident more than 40 years ago. He says the union's efforts to increase wages for workers has meant more consistent care for him and a chance to move out of a nursing home.

MICHAEL GRICE: This program is all about people - not dollars, people.

CORLEY: Ashanda Harris (ph), a home health care worker who's cared for relatives with Alzheimer's and now for her ill mother, says the individuals who filed the lawsuit over paying so-called fair share fees for collective bargaining just don't get the big picture. Harris is an SEIU member and worries the ruling could cost the union members.

ASHANDA HARRIS: And when it's time to fight, numbers count. And you have to understand that when people are getting paid $1 an hour and $3 an hour, that was ludicrous.

CORLEY: By the end of the year, the workers are set to make $13 an hour. But Patrick Simmons with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the group who backed the case, says the judges made the right decision.

PATRICK SIMMONS: No one's saying that the union can't bargain, that they can't represent people. But they need to do so with people who voluntarily support them, not people forced to do so.

CORLEY: SEIU Illinois Vice President April Verrett says no one's been forced to join the union. But she agrees the system used to help pay for bargaining and training for in-home healthcare workers will change.

APRIL VERRETT: What that looks like yet, we don't know.

CORLEY: Union leaders say what they do know is the decision has made them even more determined to stay united. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.

GREENE: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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