collective bargaining

Harris v. Quinn

Issues: 
  1. Can a State compel in-home caregivers to financially support a union to be their exclusive representative for collective-bargaining purposes?  
  2. Since the State has failed thus far to designate a union to be a particular group’s representative, do individuals falling within that group have standing to bring their claim?

Under Illinois law, caregivers who provide in-home assistance to disabled individuals through certain Medicaid-waiver programs may be compelled to support a private organization to be their exclusive representative for collective-bargaining purposes. According to Illinois, the purpose of the mandate is to prevent inter-union rivalries that might hinder collective-bargaining negotiations and to prevent non-union members from “free-riding” off union members.  In this case, the Supreme Court will consider whether compelled support for exclusive representation in this specific context violates the Constitution. Petitioners argue that forcing in-home service providers to unionize infringes upon their First Amendments rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of association.  Respondents counter that the Supreme Court’s precedent allows the government to force public workers to unionize when there is a compelling government interest for doing so. However, the fact that the Supreme Court has granted certiorari on such a narrow issue has many commentators speculating that the Court may be intending to decide much more than is immediately apparent, including decisions that may have drastic consequences for the very future of labor unions. 

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 
  1. May a State, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, compel personal care providers to accept and financially support a private organization as their exclusive representative to petition the State for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs?   
  2. Did the lower court err in holding that the claims of providers in the Home Based Support Services Program are not ripe for judicial review?  

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Facts

Petitioners in this case are individuals who provide in-home assistance to disabled persons in Illinois. Harris v. Quinn, 656 F.3d 692, 694 (7th Cir. 2011). Some of the petitioners operate under Illinois’s Home Services Program (“Rehabilitation Program”) while the rest operate under Illinois’s Home-Based Services Program (“Disabilities Program”).

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Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall

Issues: 

Does an agreement stipulating that an employer will remain neutral and give access to employee information in exchange for a union’s support of an employer-friendly ballot initiative, constitute a “thing of value” in violation § 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act; or, must a thing of value be monetary for purposes of § 302?

In 2004, UNITE HERE Local 355 (“Local 355”) entered into an agreement with Hollywood Greyhound Track, Inc. (“Mardi Gras”), the employer of Martin Mulhall. Mardi Gras agreed to help Local 355 unionize Mardi Gras’s employees by remaining neutral in the process and giving Local 355 access to its facilities and employee information. If the unionization effort was successful, Mardi Gras would recognize Local 355 as the exclusive bargaining agent for its employees. In exchange, Local 355 promised to support a Florida ballot initiative that would allow casinos to operate slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Mulhall opposed the unionization effort and sought to block the agreement under § 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act. Mulhall argues that under § 302 Mardi Gras’s promises are “things of value” and thus constitute an illegal payment from an employer to a union. Local 355 disagrees and contends that cooperative employer-union agreements have long been considered lawful. The Eleventh Circuit held that an employer’s promises in union-organizing agreements may constitute “things of value,” implicating § 302. The Supreme Court’s decision will impact the future of cooperative employer-union agreements and the way that employees and unions try to unionize. 

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether an employer and union may violate § 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act by entering into an agreement under which the employer promises to remain neutral to union organizing, grants union representatives access to the employer’s property and employers in exchange for the union’s promise to forego its right to picket, boycott, or otherwise pressure the employer's business?

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