The fallout from Janus v AFSCME continues. Numerous workers, particularly in Illinois where a key portion of this story began, have been freed from having unions dues or other “fees” forcibly removed from their paychecks to pay for the political speech of the unions. But what about the money withheld from them over all those previous years? Plenty of them would like to have that money returned. The unions, as you might imagine, are in no hurry to give out refunds so the request has been making its way through the court system.
Some of the home health aides who were battling Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to have their pay restored ran into a problem when they attempted to bring a class action suit. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that their dues should be restored to them, but ruled that a class action suit was not the appropriate method to address their needs. Now the group representing the workers is asking the Supreme Court to review that decision. (Free Beacon)
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which successfully argued the Janus case before the Supreme Court and represents the Illinois healthcare workers, said it will ask the justices to review the 7th Circuit decision. The Supreme Court asked the appellate judges to review its previous dismissal of the class action suit following its June decision. Foundation spokesman Patrick Semmens said the court needs to rectify the multi-million dollar fraud.
“As part of a backroom deal with disgraced former Illinois governor Blagojevich SEIU bosses seized over $32 millions dollars out of the pockets of tens of thousands of home care providers, and this ruling denies the victims of this scheme long overdue justice,” Semmens said.
The 7th Circuit did not dispute the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling. The three judge panel affirmed a lower court ruling that the workers in the class lacked the similar interests or harm to constitute a class.
There are a couple of moving parts to this, but it seems as if the workers stand a pretty good chance here. The first is the core argument as to whether or not they have a right to have their money returned. Their union doesn’t want to, but the courts seem to agree that the contract was unconstitutional, so they should be able to pursue a refund. (In the case of these Illinois health care workers, we’re talking about $32M.)
The problem appears to revolve around how they get the money. The 7th Circuit wasn’t saying they weren’t entitled, but that a class action suit wouldn’t produce a fair result. That actually rings true to me. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of class action suits because I can’t help but wonder how much the plaintiffs will actually receive versus how much the lawyers will vacuum up over the years as the case plays out.
Also, not each worker was employed for the same amount of time or at the same rate of pay. Some lost a lot more money than others, but a class action suit might give them all an equal share. But at the same time, asking each person to bring a suit individually would really jack up the legal bills and could take forever for all the cases to be heard.
Perhaps the Supreme Court can come up with some middle ground that will be more equitable all the way around. Here’s hoping, anyway. These people have waited long enough after being subjected to state-sponsored theft for many years.