Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Podcast
In 2012 and 2013, Indiana and Michigan, respectively, passed Right to Work laws covering both public and private sector employees. Wisconsin (2012) passed Act 10, which created Right to Work protections for most public employees and limited many aspects of public sector bargaining.
In response to this legislation, unions and their supporters in each of these states filed numerous state and federal lawsuits, challenging these laws on a wide variety of federal and state constitutional grounds. Some of the cases have been decided and others remain pending. The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently turned down a major challenge to Act 10, the Indiana Supreme Court recently heard oral argument on one state constitutional challenge, and the Michigan Supreme Court is slated to hear oral argument soon on a challenge brought by civil service unions. In addition, employees seeking to resign their memberships or cut off dues deductions have filed numerous actions in state courts and administrative agencies to enforce the laws in the face of union policies designed to restrict resignations and dues revocations. The current status of the three states’ laws and the many court challenges will be discussed in this Teleforum.
SCOTUScast 7-28-14 featuring Andrew Grossman
- Milton L. Chappell, Staff Attorney, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Harris v. Quinn. The central question in this case concerned whether a state can, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, compel in-home care providers paid for through Medicare, also known as “personal assistants” or “PAs,” to financially support a union to be their exclusive representative with respect to employment-related collective bargaining.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from PAs who do not want to join or support the union. Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. The decision of the Seventh Circuit was reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Andrew Grossman who is an Associate at Baker & Hostetler LLP and Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute. Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Podcast
Is Harris v. Quinn a landmark in labor law? The case asked the Court to decide whether the First Amendment bars Illinois from compelling personal homecare providers to accept and financially support a private organization as their exclusive representative to petition the state for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs.
Viewed narrowly, Harris is a challenge to the organization of home-care workers, asking the Court to clarify whether a state's interest in maintaining "labor peace" -- the justification for allowing government to burden workers' First Amendment rights by requiring them to associate with and support a labor union -- is sufficient in these circumstances.
But Harris also asked whether a state ever has an interest sufficiently compelling to require its own workers to speak to it through the intermediary of a labor union. It was only in 1977, in a case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, that the Supreme Court held that "labor peace" justifies this imposition on government employees' First Amendment rights. The Harris petitioners contend that Abood was wrongly decided and that governments never have any sufficiently compelling interest to compel their workers to support a labor union. Does the majority opinion's language on Abood signal the Court is ready to reverse it when the right case presents itself?
Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Podcast
- Prof. Samuel Bagenstos, University of Michigan Law School
- Andrew M. Grossman, Associate, Baker & Hostetler LLP, Adjunct Scholar, The Cato Institute
On January 27, 2014, in Sandifer v. United States Steel, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that time employee time spent donning and doffing their protective gear is not compensable by application of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The impact of the Court’s decision may have a substantial impact on employers, especially manufacturers. Our experts discussed the breadth and impact of the decision.
- Lawrence C. DiNardo, Partner, Jones Day
- Hon. Tammy D. McCutchen, former Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, United States Department of Labor, Shareholder, Littler Mendelson, P.C., and Chairman, Labor & Employment Law Practice Group