The state of Minnesota compels individuals who are not public employees, such as individual Medicaid providers, to accept an exclusive representative for speaking with the state over certain public policies.
In June 2018, the United States Supreme Court (“Supreme Court”) stated that “requir[ing] that a union serve as exclusive bargaining agent for its employees . . . [is] itself a significant impingement on associational freedoms that would not be tolerated in other contexts.” Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448, 2478 (2018). Following the Janus decision, a group of Medicaid providers, who were not public employees, brought a federal court challenge to Minnesota’s statutory scheme that forces them to have an exclusive representative speak for them. After they ultimately lost at the federal appeals court, they sought to take their case to the Supreme Court.
They asked the Supreme Court to consider whether it is constitutional for the government to compel individuals who are not government employees to accept an organization as their exclusive representative for dealing with the government.
While the Supreme Court ultimately decided not to grant certiorari to review the Bierman case, other cases raising similar issues have been before the Court even more recently.
The Fairness Center filed a brief in this case encouraging the Supreme Court to hear the case and also provided free representation to two Pennsylvanians who challenged a similar scheme that began in Pennsylvania in 2015. One client was a homecare worker who has provided in-home care to his employer, whose muscular dystrophy rendered him quadriplegic, for over 25 years; the homecare worker was not a state employee. After Pennsylvania’s governor issued an executive order paving the way for the unionizing of 20,000 private employees like our client who provide in-home care, the Fairness Center filed a lawsuit, Smith v. Wolf, on our clients’ behalf. The Fairness Center’s clients initially succeeded in having the executive order enjoined, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ultimately allowed it to stand as a “permissible exercise of gubernatorial power,” allowing a union to insert itself into the relationship between 20,000 homecare workers and the disabled and elderly persons who employ them—whether they want it or not.
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January 17, 2019