The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions today, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover a union's costs of collective bargaining.
In a 5-4 split the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of non-members who disagree with the positions that unions take.
According to one regional union rep, the decision is expected to have no impact here in Montana.
The Washington state-based S.E.I.U 775 represents home-care aides who work for agencies in both Washington and Montana. Those aides attend to older adults and people with disabilities.
Jackson Holtz says it's difficult work performed by -quote- "largely invisible workers" that most people don't know about about. Holtz says union officials are still sorting through the ramifications of today's Supreme Court decision, but adds one thing is certain: it will have no impact on Montana home health care workers:
"Montana Home-care workers work through agencies and this ruling has no impact on them whatsoever."
Holtz says today's decision will not deter organizations like S.E.I.U 775:
"Extremists no matter what stripe they are - but in this case, extremists who are trying to divide communities and make it harder for individuals, like older adults and people with disabilities to get the kind of care they want and to avoid being put into costly institutions - that those kind of extremists go to no end to try to tear apart our communities. And what we're doing is working together to make sure that people can achieve the American dream of reaching the middle class, having retirement security, of being able to pay for an education, take care of their children, afford health care - these are the kind of things that our members are fighting for every day..."
The Supreme Court's limited ruling means public unions avoided a potentially devastating blow that could have meant a major drop in public employee membership ranks.