The United States Supreme Court acted today in another case involving a scheme to siphon millions of dollars in compulsory union dues from home caregivers assisting public aid recipients. On June 30, 2014, the Court decided Harris v. Quinn and held that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the collection of a compulsory agency fee from rehabilitation program personal assistants who do not want to join or support the union. Today, the Court applied Harris to Schlaud v. Snyder, vacating the judgment, and remanding the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for further consideration in light of Harris v. Quinn. As the Schlaud case continues, look for another blow to the forced-dues arrangment perpretrated by various union officials and their friends in government.
Schlaud and other plaintiffs in the case are home childcare providers in Michigan who sought class-action certification in their First Amendment challenge to the state's compulsory deduction of union dues from subsidies paid to home childcare providers. In January 2009, the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) began deducting 1.15% from subsidy payments made to home childcare providers. The funds were forwarded to the union, which was a joint venture between the United Auto Workers union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. According to the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the union collected $2,000,019.09 in 2009 and at least $1,821,635.21 in 2010.
Schlaud and her co-plaintiffs sought the return of the compulsory union dues that were collected in violation of their First Amendment rights. The district court denied certification of the plaintiffs’ proposed class -- all home childcare providers in Michigan -- because it concluded a conflict of interest existed within the class: some members voted for union representation and others voted against union representation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, and Schlaud sought review by the Supreme Court.
Attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed and have litigated both Shlaud and Harris on behalf of personal assistants and home childcaregivers. In Harris, the Supreme Court did not reach the issue of the constitutionality generally of compelling public sector employees to pay union dues or agency fees, but it strongly signaled that the legal analysis of a 1977 Supreme Court decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which found compulsory agency-fee requirements to be constitutional, was "questionable." The Harris opinion opens the door, cracked initially in Knox v. Service Employees, for the Court to revisit the constitutionality of compelling public employees to pay union dues or agency fees as a condition of employment.