The government should not force people into unions

Illinois’s scheme is a trifecta of constitutional violations. It violates the right of free association of those who are coerced into a fees-paying relationship with unions — a right that, the Supreme Court has held, “plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate.” Not to associate, for example, with groups whose expressive activities are offensive to those who are coerced into joining the groups. Second, those coerced into unions are compelled to subsidize with their dues union speech with which they may strenuously disagree. Third, after being transformed by government fiat into government employees, they are denied the First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances in their own voices, having been forced to allow a union to petition for them.

An amicus brief supporting Harris notes that “the state of Illinois has no cognizable interest in maintaining ‘labor peace’ among household workers or family members merely because they provide services to individuals who participate in a state program or because they are subject to state regulation.” “Labor peace” is the reason unionization is supposedly a legitimate state interest — sufficiently compelling, in certain circumstances, to allow states to compromise First Amendment protections.

“Labor peace” was an important interest when it entered labor law in 1917 in connection with a national railroad strike that might have seriously disrupted interstate commerce in wartime. But how could people providing home care — including parents such as Pam Harris — threaten labor peace? Caregivers do not work together in a factory or office. And they certainly do not threaten the flow of interstate commerce.