The Star Tribune editorial board recently excoriated childcare union organizers for their duplicitous and disingenuous “sales pitch” to providers. The editorial begins: “Minnesotans heard a lot about improving quality of care and pay for providers when the DFL legislative majority heavy-handedly pushed through a controversial child care unionization bill last spring. What families and policymakers didn’t hear about was another so-called ‘benefit’ that recently has been touted in pro-unionization efforts with home-based providers — leveraging a union’s collective strength to resist regulation. This new messaging from union supporters ought to outrage parents…”
In response, the leaders of Child Care Providers Together (aka AFSCME) lashed out at the Star Tribune for its “anti-union editorial”, which allegedly “parrots the words of extreme right-wing agents like the National Right to Work Foundation and the Freedom Foundation.”
That is likely the first (and last) time the Star Tribune will ever be accused of anti-union zealotry, and of taking cues from free-market think tanks. Amazingly, AFSCME went on to make an even more delusional claim: “Our great-grandmothers were denied their right to vote until 1920. Suffrage didn’t come easy for them. Like strong women before us, child-care providers won the right to vote for a union.”
If the union seems more than a little desperate, there may be good reason. 2013 has been a boon for Big Labor in Minnesota: an obedient legislature and governor granted its every wish, giving Minnesota policymakers the dubious distinction this year of approving the largest expansion of union power in the country. Yet things are not going as well for AFSCME and its fellow government unions in the courts.
Last month, a federal appeals court granted an injunction delaying implementation of Minnesota’s childcare union law until the U.S. Supreme Court decided whether to take up a similar case that challenges the constitutionality of Illinois’ forced unionization of homecare providers. The case, Harris v. Quinn, involves a Chicago-area mother and homecare provider who cares for her disabled son.
According to Chicago’s Fox affiliate, Pamela Harris was “angry and furious that Governor Quinn had signed an order allowing unions like the Service Employees International to attempt to organize workers like her, who are paid to care for disabled relatives. She claimed union rules could interfere with how she cared for her son, and just so unions could get expanded membership and collect more fees.”
Consequently, Ms. Harris and several other homecare providers (with the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation) are challenging the forced unionization scheme “on the grounds that it violates their rights to free expression and association by forcing them to subsidize union lobbying.”
And just last week, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear her case.
If the Court ultimately rules in favor of the Illinois homecare providers, it would likely have major ramifications for Minnesota’s childcare and PCA forced unionization law, as well as government unions’ ability to compel non-members to pay so-called “fair share fees.”
Compulsory unionism and fair share fees are the lifeblood of government unions; without coercion, workers would be free to choose. And as we’ve seen in Wisconsin and elsewhere, when workers have the freedom to choose, they choose to be free of the unions.