Does a parent caring for his disabled child at home need to pay to be represented by a union?

That was the topic at a Heritage panel Friday hosted by Andrew Grossman, William Messenger, and James Sherk. The three spoke out against home care providers in Illinois being designated as state employees and consequently having to pay fees to the Service Employees International Union, the subject of  the Supreme Court case Harris v. Quinn.

According to Messenger, an attorney for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the main argument of the case is that “it is unconstitutional to unionize homecare providers under the First Amendment.” But what does the First Amendment have to say about forcing a home day care service to be unionized? Grossman asserts there are “three rights are at stake: free speech, freedom of association, and freedom to petition government.’”

“The rights to speak and the right to associate also include the rights not to speak and not to associate,” Grossman adds. Parents, neighbors, or extended families who receive government subsidies for providing at home care for disabled children and adults are termed government employees. Unions are meant to be a mediator between government employees and their employers. They are also meant to provide services to the unionized workers in exchange for the dues that come out of the employees’ paychecks.

”The parent is not going to file a grievance against their child,” remarks Sherk, a labor policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation. “This is absurd.” The unionized at home care givers are being pushed into a “forced association,” Messenger argues, adding that their First Amendment rights are therefore violated. Grossman furthers the point, saying the ‘government can’t force you… to join a group with which you disagree.’ To answer the beginning question: In regards to the case of Harris v. Quinn, no, at home service providers should not be forced to unionize, according to Sherk, Messenger, and Grossman.

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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