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Republicans, Advocates React to Home Health Care Worker Court Decision

by Hugh McQuaid | Jul 2, 2014 5:30am
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Courts, Health Care, Labor, Legal

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Cathy Ludlum

Republican lawmakers and advocates for disabled people called upon the state Tuesday to halt plans to collect union fees from home health care workers in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling.

The high court’s decision in Harris v Quinn found that home health care workers in Illinois paid through Medicaid can not be forced to pay fees to the union representing them.

State officials, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen, are reviewing the case to determine what impact it will have on Connecticut’s recently-formed home health care workers union.

But opponents of the controversial unionization process seized Tuesday on the ruling. They called upon the state to stop plans to begin collecting union dues and what is called “agency fees” from workers who chose not to join the union but have nonetheless been represented by it in collective bargaining negotiations.

“Were this not to happen yesterday, union dues and agency fees would start coming out of my employees’ paychecks,” said Cathy Ludlum, a Manchester resident with spinal muscular atrophy who employs personal care attendants. “What we are asking for, to answer your question, is [the application of union fees] be rescinded immediately so that they don’t take that hit starting in two weeks,”

Ludlum was a plaintiff to an unsuccessful lawsuit that challenged Malloy’s executive orders which began the process leading to the health care workers’ unionization. Ludlum and others argued the order amounted to “forced unionization” of some workers.

Joe Summa, the attorney who represented Ludlum and others in the lawsuit, called upon Malloy and Jepsen to proactively halt the agency fees.

“Hopefully, Cathy and her group won’t be forced to fight anymore and have to go to court to force the state to do this,” Summa said.

Both offices said Tuesday they are still reviewing the ruling.

For the time being, the union, SEIU District 1199, views the Supreme Court ruling as specific to the program in Illinois. Here in Connecticut, SEIU has already negotiated a collective bargaining agreement for the health care workers that includes pay increases. Coincidentally, that contract went into effect Tuesday.

Jennifer Schneider, a spokeswoman for SEIU District 1199, said the plan is still to begin collecting the fees on schedule.

It is unclear whether the ruling will eventually preclude them from doing that. In that case, workers who elected to be part of the union would still be free to pay the organization’s dues but all others would get the representation of the union without paying it.

Hugh McQuaid Photo At an unrelated event Tuesday, Rep. Peter Tercyak, co-chairman of the legislature’s Labor Committee, called the Supreme Court decision a ruling “against regular people.” But Tercyak said lawmakers could adapt Connecticut’s law to work around the decision.

“They have not yet taken away the state’s ability to pass our own laws and change our laws when they make it harder for good things to happen. Should this be decided to affect Connecticut workers, then we’ll just damn well fix it,” Tercyak said. “We will look at it and figure out how to get it done so that it meets the Supreme Court’s latest ridiculous test or hurdle.”

Meanwhile, Republican state Rep. Rob Sampson, of Wolcott, and Republican state Sen. Joe Markley, of Southington, are hoping the legislature takes the opportunity to revoke that law that codified Malloy’s executive order and allowed the group to begin collectively bargaining.

“Ultimately what’s going to happen here is we are going to give choice back to these people to decide whether they want to be in a union or not and whether the union is worth paying the dues,” Sampson said.

The union objects to the notion that anyone was forced to become part of the organization. In an email, 1199 member Terrell Williams said the home health care employees worked hard to become part of the union.

“I see being part of a union as a privilege. Home care workers put a lot of work in to form this union so we can have a voice and the issues that are important to us are heard. We are on the work sites every day, not elected officials, and we have the right to decide what is best for us and the people we care for,” he said.

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(15) Comments

posted by: shinningstars122 | July 2, 2014  5:49am

shinningstars122

I think the question to ask, and the group to ask, is the home care workers.

Do they want union representation?

If so they can continue paying and we move on. As for the few, and I sure it would be less than 10%, they can opt out and go it alone.

As for Ms.Ludlum if she wants to hire non-union, lowered paid health care workers to take care of her, well let her own that right and she can hire from that 10% pool or some fly by night private health care company.

posted by: dano860 | July 2, 2014  8:43am

Yes, they should be asked! They weren’t when this went into effect.
That will give everyone a choice of who they want to hire, union or non union.
BTW joining a union doesn’t instantly make a care provider p, or anyone else, smarter or better at their job.
One thing I know from my past union affiliation is that union negotiated raises are followed up with union dues increases.
It’s all about the union, not the people, they are just numbers.

posted by: UConnHoop | July 2, 2014  8:54am

Only in the People’s Republic of CT can this scheme not be seen for what it is; the transfer of millions of taxpayer money from the government to the unions.

posted by: RAN | July 2, 2014  9:31am

It is not 10% who don’t want forced unionization.  It’s about 10% who do want it.  The other 90% that don’t want their forced dues to go into the campaign coffers of Malloy, Jepsen and the rest of the crooks in the Dem party.  It’s a revolving door union/Dem campaign funding fraud.  The Supremes and everyone else is on to it.  The jig is up.

posted by: CT Jim | July 2, 2014  10:21am

If these two legislators want to wrap their careers around the fact they support a Supreme Court that hates, workers, hates women, and is willing to sell the country to the highest bidder then feel free.

posted by: Historian | July 2, 2014  10:21am

To be frank I did not understand this situation until the news stories over the last days. I was horrified that laws had being passed forcing a parent to pay a union dues if they cared for a family member. That is the bottom line.
  The real problem here is the mythic status unions have acquired as the “good guys” when in reality they have become nothing more than leaches on the working low and middle class and acquiring paid politicians to front for them and their dues grubbing in return for campaign workers and reelection funding.

posted by: Bulldog1 | July 2, 2014  11:47am

Leaching, really?
Low paid workers, working at all hours doing difficult work should expect lousy wages, no workers comp in jobs that often require lifting folks who cannot help much with that, no other benefits and the best we can say is it’s the damned unions that caused this?

As the parent of a disabled adult who has to hire such folks at least getting them basic work place protections like workers comp and better wages works for both sides.  Better help means better care.

The leaches on the “lower classes” as Historian puts it are the corporations that pay less than living wages while making CEO’s and stockholders filthy rich. Yes, union workers make more than non-union workers on the whole.  And the problem with that is what? Is it that lower wages and no benefits for most everybody is the “right” thing to do?

Does the democracy survive if 80% of it’s citizens can’t make it on what the 1% allow them make?

posted by: Greg | July 2, 2014  12:54pm

Forced unionization is a huge middle finger to any disabled person who attempts to live a normal, independant life.  Ms Ludlum speaks for a huge part of the disabled community and yet her words go unheeded by those who would rather fill union coffers than help the disabled.

Quite the War On The Disabled Malloy and the Democrats started here.  God forbid someone who is disabled/in a wheelchair/elderly make their own care choices without the meddling of the State of CT and some union thugs.

posted by: ocoandasoc | July 2, 2014  1:45pm

A few notes here. First, the SCOTUS ruling is strange, narrow, and seems to skirt around the central issue, but it is dead on for the situation in CT. If the State does not alter course they can be sued in Federal court and will undoubtedly lose, costing the taxpayers a lot of money in legal fees and billable lawyer hours. It remains to be seen, however, whether Malloy will have the courage to do so months before an election in which he will need union support. I won’t be surprised if the State obfuscates and plows ahead for now but then quietly caves in Decmber when a new lawsuit kicks in. Second, it is not accurate to say that the non-union workers here are represented by the union, even though the union likes to say that. Just because under State procedure one schedule of hourly rates and benefits is mandated for these workers when receiving State funding and that the State chooses to negotiate those rates and benefits with the union does not mean that the union is representing their non-members. Do the non-members receive ancillary benefits from the union actions? Perhaps, in fact, probably. But that is not the same as representation in any legal sense of the word.  Finally, Tercyak’s comments are way off base and reflect a pro-union bias that is inappropriate for the co-Chairman of the legislature’s Labor Committee. Apparently he believes that only the union members are “regular people” and his determination to evade the Supreme Court’s “ridiculous” ruling is similarly unseemly. But this is just more political grandstanding and par for the course.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS | July 3, 2014  9:14am

But refusing to join a union should also mean that the terms of the union agreement should not apply to the non-union employee.They should be subject to employment conditions mutually agreeable to the employee and the employer.And get no benfits that was won by union dues.

posted by: Knitting Clio | July 3, 2014  11:51am

Historian:  if you’re a student of history than surely you know that unions are what brought us the weekend.

Greg:  if this is a huge middle finger to persons with disabilities than why did so many of these persons and their advocates sign an amicus brief endorsing unionization?

posted by: QuestionMark | July 3, 2014  12:12pm

CTJim;  Why must your stance always be favorably politically Democratic—not for the welfare of the people?

posted by: CT Jim | July 7, 2014  11:26am

Question mark, Question my motives all you want but my allegiance is to working class and middle class workers in CT. And question for you: Why haven’t you questioned why these 2 are so against workers making a living wage?  Go ahead look up their record. Everything they support destroys working families. So thats why I trend one way more than others. What’s your reason?

posted by: QuestionMark | July 7, 2014  1:40pm

CTJim:  Unions have destroyed
our former business and manufacturing leadership in he world and sent manufacturers overseas, and they aren’t helping with the higher cost of running our local, state and national government rising budget outlays with higher mandated annual pay increases which the private work sector does not receive—only pay high taxes for the union mandated increases. You can brag about the annual pay increases you receive only because ALL taxpayers must pay for them.

posted by: Bulldog1 | July 7, 2014  3:31pm

?mark, sorry but it’s not the unions who gutted America’s industrial capacity but it’s the guys like Romney who figured out how to buy companies, put the cash in their pockets, strip and sell the assets, load the company with debt(taking the proceeds of course), shipping the work to China and tossing the American worker into the street. Remember American Pad and Paper?

Walmart, Target and company don’t even buy from nonunionized American comapnies if they can help it. Soo spare us “the Unions did it line.”  Unions put ordinary Americans in the middle class either directly with their contracts or by making the non union guys pay better wages.  Now, with ooiur industrial plant sold by Wall Street to China and whatever other hellholes they can find to do the work America can’t provide enough jobs for those that need them.  When we made things we were a wealthy nation, one that had enough to allow the middle class to thrive.  You really think any of the big money guys care if you eat?  Or if your kids eat?

That Unions exist is a convenient excuse the Wall Street Boys use to avoid anyone looking at what they’ve really done to this country.