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SEIU could still be on the hook for $32M to non-union Illinois homecare workers

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SEIU is politically active and use their fees to support candidates like JB Pritzker
 

WASHINGTON – As if this week's Janus decision wasn't a big enough blow to public sector unions, Thursday morning the US Supreme Court granted, vacated, and remanded Riffey v. Rauner, another case before the justices originating in Illinois.  A decision could cost Illinois' Service Employees International Union (SEIU) $32 million.

“With the Supreme Court remanding Riffey, we are one step closer toward vindicating the rights of the tens of thousands of victims, many whom are family members caring for disabled children in their own homes,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix.

“The Supreme Court already ruled in the Foundation’s 2014 Harris v. Quinn case that the scheme violated the First Amendment. It is long past time that the over $32 million illegally seized by SEIU union bosses be returned,” Mix said.

In Riffey v. Rauner, the US Supreme Court asked the Court of Appeals to reconsider the case in light of the new precedent set in the National Right to Work Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision. A group of Illinois home care providers filed Riffey with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The case seeks the return of over $32 million in fees seized by SEIU union officials in a scheme declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Riffey v. Rauner is a continuation of the 2014 Foundation-won Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn case. In Harris, the Court ruled that a forced dues scheme imposed by the state of Illinois, in which over 80,000 individual home care providers in Illinois were unionized and thus required to pay union fees, violated the First Amendment, according to the Right to Work Foundation.

In 2014, the case was re-designated Riffey v. Rauner and remanded to the District Court to settle remaining issues, including whether or not tens of thousands of providers who had never joined the union would receive refunds of the money taken from them unlawfully by the SEIU.

In June 2016, the District Court ruled that, despite the Supreme Court ruling in Harris, the SEIU did not have to repay the funds. Right to Work Foundation lawyers appealed that ruling to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed, claiming that, even though these workers never consented to their money being taken for forced dues, they did not suffer First Amendment injury.

Earlier this year, attorneys asked the Supreme Court to grant certiorari and hear the case to clarify that it is a violation of the First Amendment when fees are taken from nonmembers without their consent. After the Court released its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, declaring it a First Amendment violation for public sector workers to be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, the Court granted certiorari in Riffey, vacated the lower court’s ruling, and remanded the case back to the Court of Appeals.

“Now, with the new protections for workers afforded by our landmark Janus v. AFSCME victory, it is critical to establish that unions cannot require individuals to ‘opt out’ of union dues that they cannot be required to pay in the first place,” Mix went on to say.

“Union officials are already using such ‘opt-out’ schemes nationwide to limit workers’ constitutional protections. Ultimately, a clear ruling by the Supreme Court on this issue is needed to ensure that individuals who never joined a union cannot be required to take affirmative steps simply to protect their First Amendment rights.”

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