KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

High Court Justices Debate Union Rights For Home Health Care Workers

The Illinois case was brought before the Supreme Court Tuesday. According to news accounts, Justice Antonin Scalia may be the swing vote.

The New York Times: Justices Appear Divided On A Sweeping Challenge To Public Workers’ Unions
A broad challenge to public sector unions was met with a mixed response on Tuesday at the Supreme Court. The case, brought by Illinois workers who provide home health care to Medicaid recipients, could have been argued on narrow grounds. But the workers’ lawyer decided to go big (Liptak, 1/21).

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Considers Striking Down Mandatory Public Union
Illinois uses Medicaid funds to provide in-home care for adults with disabilities. In 2003, Gov. Rod Blagojevich cleared the way for more than 20,000 of these in-home workers to be characterized as state workers who were then free to join a union. A majority of them voted to join the Service Employees International Union, which led to higher wages and better benefits (Savage, 1/21).

Los Angeles Times: Scalia May Be Swing Vote In Union-Fees Case
Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether teachers and other public employees can be required to pay dues to support a union even if some of them oppose it. Since 1977, the high court has upheld such mandatory union fees, but some justices suggested that they were open to changing course and striking down such the practice as a violation of the 1st Amendment. ... Justice Antonin Scalia, alone among the five more conservative justices, suggested that he was not ready to switch course. “Our cases say you can be compelled not be to a free rider,” he told one lawyer he said (Savage, 1/21).

The CT Mirror: Connecticut Sees Implications In Supreme Court Union Case
Connecticut joined a group of six states in filing an amicus brief urging the court to uphold the lower court rulings. Meanwhile, a group of child care providers in Connecticut joined a separate amicus brief supporting the home care workers who sued. Unionization of home care workers and day care providers has been a controversial matter in Connecticut. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2011 issued an executive order granting limited negotiating rights to certain home care workers -- often referred to as personal care attendants -- and home day care providers paid by public programs (Becker, 1/21).

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