Supreme Court watch: Harris v. Quinn; families battle SEIU over thuggish home invasion tactics; Update: Still waiting
Loyal readers will recall that in the fall of 2009, I published special reports on the parental revolt against Big Labor’s attempts to force their way into the homes and lives of families who care for developmentally disabled loved ones. One of the moms I spotlighted, Pam Harris, refused to surrender. Her class-action lawsuit challenging Illinois Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn’s SEIU-pandering executive order is now before the Supreme Court. Harris and seven other home-health providers will find out later this morning if SCOTUS will grant cert and hear the case, Harris v. Quinn.
As Harris said when the suit brought by the National Right to Work Foundation Legal Defense Foundation was first filed: “We are NOT ‘public employees.’ We are parents who take care of our adult sons and daughters with significant disabilities in our homes, in the community so they can thrive and live safely with meaning and purpose. We will not allow our Constitutional right of free political expression and association to be violated by the Governor of Illinois.”
A refresher from my Oct. 5, 2009 report:
Roughly 3,500 people in Illinois receive state funding to assist someone, usually a family member, at home with a developmental disability. In June, Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn signed an executive order approving collective bargaining by “individual providers of home-based support services” — effectively busting open the doors of private homes for the Purple Shirts of the SEIU and other union competitors hungry for new dues-paying members.
The home-based workers weren’t seeking a collective bargaining agent.
But unions were targeting them…
Over the last month, home-based providers started have been receiving unexpected visits from out-of-state union lackeys trying to recruit them with the promise of health care benefits and more money. Last week, providers began receiving ballots to elect the SEIU or the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to represent them. Yes, Illinois provided both the SEIU and AFSCME with the names and home addresses of all 3,500 in-home care providers for the purposes of increasing their membership rolls and political clout.
You read that right: The state of Illinois released the names and private addresses of those providers to union goons. Yep, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
As I reported three years ago, parent Pam Harris and families like hers were punished for speaking out:
Pam Harris of Western Springs, Illinois, the mother of a 20-year-old son with severe developmental disabilities who receives in-home care stipends, questioned the state’s failure to make a no-representation option clear. She and other parents dared to criticize the union effort publicly in a piece published September 3 in the Chicago Tribune. (“I am not an employee of the state,” Harris said. “I work from my home. I don’t want the union in my home. I can Norma Rae with the rest of them.”) Harris and other parents scraped together their own money (no match for Big Labor coffers) and put together an informational flyer to counter-balance the pro-union propaganda and inform home-based providers that they could opt for no union representation.
The union-pandering state government responded by trying to gag parental critics — yet another stark illustration of SEIU president Andy Stern’s “persuasion of power.”
On September 11, home-based providers received this warning from the Department of Human Services informing them that “it is the position of the State of Illinois that service facilitation providers within the Home-Based Support Services Program remain neutral as it pertains to the election covering Personal Support Workers. Your compliance is greatly appreciated:”
…And on September 21, the state sent yet another memo out to home-based providers threatening to cut off funding for making “anti-union” statements…
Parent Pam Harris summed it up for me last week: “Our governor receives money and support from a union. He signs an Executive Order allowing that union to organize a unique group of workers who provide personal supports to people with substantial functioning limitations in the privacy of their home. Most of who[m] are parents. In the Executive Order, the Governor states that this group of workers are NOT employees of the State of Illinois but he acts like our boss when he says that ‘the state will recognize a representative designated by a majority’ of the workers. Then neither the state or the unions inform the unique group that they have a right to vote for NO union representation until 2 weeks prior to the election. The state also successfully quashes any legitimate avenues for the flow of information about the option for NO union representation by sending a thinly veiled ‘cease and desist memo’ to every personal support worker and every service facilitation provider. Our adult children have substantial functional limitations. We are just trying to get accurate information about a very important decision that will affect their lives. Maybe someone thinks we are too overwhelmed caring for our children to pay attention. Well, they are mistaken.”
Culture of intimidation. Culture of corruption. Sound familiar?
Quinn’s executive order does not have an expiration date and he refuses to rescind it. As Harris told me in an update late last week, “the only reason the union is not actively seeking to unionize personal support workers in the Home Based program is Harris v Quinn – our class action lawsuit against Governor Quinn and the SEIU. We will learn on Monday, June 10th, whether or not the Supreme Court will grant certiorari.”
Be sure to check SCOTUSblog on Monday morning about 9:30 am. (EDT) for live-blogging of the Court’s decisions and orders.
Writes Harris: “If the Supreme Court does not grant cert, be assured that the unions will quickly mobilize and begin to contact the personal support workers. They will, if they have not already, get our names and addresses from the State. I hope to be a part of an active, committed group of parents and lead the effort to inform families throughout the state as to their rights, and the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Home-based waiver program – to support the individual with the intellectual/developmentall disability – NOT the union!
Thank you for your support during these past several years as our case made it’s way through the judicial process all the way to the Supreme Court.”
God bless Pam Harris and all the vigilant, whistle-blowing families combating Illinois’s Big Labor/Democrat home invasion machine.
Update from the NRTW:
Although we had hoped the Supreme Court would announce whether it would take the case today, it was not on today’s orders list, meaning the case will be conference again this Thursday. That makes this coming Monday (June 17th) the likely day when the Court will announce whether or not it will take the case.
I’ll keep you updated.
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