Six home care workers are suing the state and the union which currently represents them.
Representation is the problem, as the suit argues designating the Service Employees International Union as the "exclusive representative" for child care providers and caregivers violates their First Amendment rights.
The six are being represented by the Liberty Justice Center, a litigation center started by the right-leaning Illinois Policy Institute. The center's senior attorney, Jacob Huebert, says the suit would leave the door open for workers to voluntarily allow SEIU to continue to represent them.
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"These child care and home care providers will be free to support the SEIU if they think the SEIU will be a good advocate for them," Huebert said, "Or if they think another union would be a good advocate for them, they could support that union."
Alternatively, Huebert says workers could deal with the state individually.
The six plaintiffs include two day care operators, Carrie Long of Springfield and Sherry Schmacher of South Beloit, along with four others who provide care for family members: Jane McNames of Caledonia, Jill Ann Wise of Mount Carmel, Rebecca Hill of Cisne, and Ranette Kesteloot of Kankakee.
The suit builds off a victory for "right to work" advocates in the 2014 Harris v. Quinn ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled caregivers no longer had to pay any fees to SEIU. Huebert says the ruling didn't address the broader question of whether these workers have to use SEIU as their representative.
In a statement responding to the lawsuit, SEIU Vice President James Muhammad said, "The suit filed by the National Right to Work Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center challenging SEIU Healthcare Illinois’ right to represent low-wage home care and child care workers is nothing new. NRTWF’s sole aim is to weaken, if not totally destroy, every avenue for workers to have a voice on the job through a union."