(Published in The National Review Online, February 29, 2012)
By David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Andrew Grossman
Theresa Riffey provides help around the home for her brother, a quadriplegic, and receives a small stipend from Illinois’s Medicaid program for her efforts, saving the state the cost of providing full-time care. Illinois law requires her to pay a portion of her check every month to an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear her case that asks on what basis, besides raw political power, a state may compel independent home-care workers and other similarly situated self-employed persons to support and associate with a labor union against their will. For the sake of workers’ First Amendment rights, it should take the case.
“Organized labor” brings to mind railroads, factories, and government offices, but the labor movement’s biggest recent gains have been in the home. Led by SEIU, unions and their political allies have pushed through executive orders and legislation in a dozen states to “organize” home-care workers, such as personal assistants and sitters, by deeming them state employees for collective-bargaining purposes alone.