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Chicago Mother Forced To Join Union For Taking Care Of Disabled Son

A stay-at-home Chicago mother is being forced to join a union so she can be a caregiver for her severely disabled son.

Pam Harris, 55, has personally been taking care of the needs of her son Josh for the past 25 years, according to The Inquisitr.

Josh Harris’ medical services are expensive, so the family receives help from the Medicaid program funded by the Illinois state government. However, if Pam does not join either the AFSCME or SEIU unions, then the family would stop receiving $2,130 per month.

A large part of the benefits would then go to Henry Bayer, executive director of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 organization. Bayer’s salary is reportedly $145,000 per year, and is collected from union dues.

In 2009, an Illinois law required unionization of all home caregivers in Josh’s Medicaid program, whether it is the parent offering the assistance or not.

She alerted other parents in the program, and when it came time to vote on which union would represent caregivers, their voices were made loud and clear: a total of 220 votes for AFSCME, 293 votes for SEIU, and 1,018 votes for “no union.”

Harris and other are taking their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, and a decision about union representation of home caregivers is expected this summer.

According to a Chicago Tribune editorial article, favoring Pam Harris and others in her position, Bayer said that if parents of chronically ill children don’t want to pay union dues, they shouldn’t be eligible for state aid.

If Pam Harris wins her case against mandatory union membership, it could reshape labor laws for government workers nationwide, according to a My Journal Courier report. Her attorney asked the court to rule that such employees can’t be forced to pay union dues or “representation fees.” The First Amendment case could also affect at-home care workers that use Medicaid funds in California, Connecticut, Maryland, and other states.

Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 such workers in Illinois voted to join the Service Employees International Union to try to get wage increases. The National Right to Work Foundation sued Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and the SEIU, accusing both of conspiring to “relabel” private caregivers as state employees so they could increase union membership and dues.

“This scheme is nothing more than pure political payback,” said National Right to Work Foundation Director Patrick Semmens, who claimed that unions have donated to Quinn’s campaign.


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