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Minnesota Legislature’s Action Allowing Home Care Providers the Right to Unionize Now in Jeopardy Due to U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling that Illinois Personal Care Assistants Can Not be required to Pay Union Dues

July 2014

By: James B. Sherman, Esq. and Phoebe A. Taurick, Esq.

In 2013, Minnesota enacted a law allowing in-home child care providers to unionize. That law is currently under challenge, and the 8 th Circuit Court of Appeals delayed its implementation, pending resolution of a case challenging a similar law in Illinois. On June 30, 2014, the United States Supreme Court ruled that while Illinois personal care assistants subsidized by state aid money could join unions they could not be forced to contribute “fair share” payments to the union. The implications of this ruling on the pending challenge of the Minnesota home care providers law, is unclear. The Illinois case challenged only the requirement that all providers pay dues, whereas the Minnesota case is challenging the ability of these care providers to unionize in the first instance.

Although the specific legal questions in the two cases differ, the fact that the 8 th Circuit waited for the Supreme Court decision before ruling on the Minnesota issue, is telling; the appellate court likely will look at why the Supreme Court determined that required fair share payments were not appropriate for child care providers. Notably, the Supreme Court downplayed the employment relationship between the care providers and the state. If the 8 th Circuit follows this lead, it could determine that unionization is not appropriate for these types of workers, thus invalidating Minnesota’s pro-union law.

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