by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Workers seeking to take back millions in forced dues plan on taking their case to the Supreme Court after federal appellate judges rejected their class action suit.
Home health aides were forced to pay more than $30 million to the labor giant Service Employees International Union (SEIU) under an agreement hatched by former governor Rod Blagojevich, who is finishing up a prison sentence for corruption. The Supreme Court declared that arrangement unconstitutional in 2014 because home health aides, many of whom are caring for disabled relatives, did not meet the standard of government employment.
Several of those aides sought to recoup the money deducted by SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana for several years. Those bids were rejected, but new hope emerged after the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees—a case filed by an Illinois state employee—that forced union dues from government agencies infringed on the First Amendment rights of workers. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, agreed that workers previously bound by forced dues contracts were entitled to take their money back, but said class action suits were not the appropriate venue for doing so.