SCOTUS Implication: RI Can’t Force Child Care Providers to Join or Pay Union

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Harris v. Quinn, today, should reverse efforts in Rhode Island to force independent child care providers whose clients receive state subsidies to join a union or to pay “free rider” fees for a union’s negotiating services.

By way of review, last year, the General Assembly passed, and Governor Chafee signed, legislation to allow independent child care providers who have clients receiving subsidies through the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to join a labor union.  The legislation also required providers who didn’t want to join the union to pay a “service charge” for “negotiation and administration of the written contract” that could amount to as much as full dues.  It’s a gray area, but presumably, the state can’t pay parents different subsidies depending on whether or not their providers are in the union.

(In the House, the first five sponsors of the bill were Slater, Diaz, Almeida, Blazejewski, and Handy; in the Senate, they were Goodwin, Jabour, Pichardo, Crowley, and Ruggerio.)

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity became deeply involved in pushing back against the suspiciously tilted elections that unionized the providers under the SEIU.  The Current-Anchor  also paid the election some attention, including incidents of state police threatening to arrest private citizens who wanted to observe the proceedings.

According to the governor’s office, negotiations with the SEIU are currently underway, but members of the public (who will be paying the bill) will have no window into them until the deal is done.

The Harris ruling, written by Justice Samuel Alito, pertains to personal assistants for disabled recipients of state aid in Illinois, often their parents or other relatives.  However, the reasoning is the same — mainly that the providers are not full state employees, that their immediate clients are not the state, but the families that they serve, and that the negotiable aspects of their relationship with the state are severely limited.

It is therefore almost certain that a lawsuit by any child care providers who do not want to pay the SEIU “service charges” out of their pay checks will prevail.  It’s always been questionable whether the union could do much for the providers, other than to siphon away money intended to help families pay for child care, but now providers will likely receive any benefits without paying any costs.

For that reason, the Center is calling on the executive branch, in Rhode Island, to halt the proceedings and the legislature to repeal the law.  As the press release states, the Center is also considering the possibility of requesting a stay on any action that would commit taxpayers to unconstitutional costs.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in The Ocean State Current, including text, graphics, images, and information are solely those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of The Current, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, or its members or staff. The Current cannot be held responsible for information posted or provided by third-party sources. Readers are encouraged to fact check any information on this web site with other sources.

  • No products in the cart.