Supreme Court rules on home health care worker union fees - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Supreme Court rules on home health care worker union fees

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The U.S. Supreme Court wraps up its work for the summer, but not before issuing a decision that will have a major impact here in Vermont.

The case concerns a union's power to compel support even from non-members.

The decision will resonate across Vermont, but won't affect the state's largest labor organizations.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision Monday that will affect the landscape for workers across the Green Mountains.

The court ruled that in some circumstances a union cannot force non-members to share the cost of negotiations by paying fees.

"Those people that opt out will still get the benefit of collective bargaining arrangements," said Daniel Richardson, Vt. Bar Association.

Richardson says the decision will affect home health care workers who recently formed a union and home child care workers considering doing the same.

Legislation passed over the last two years allowed both to collect agency fees from non-members, essentially union dues minus the cost of the union's political activity.

"It limits the effectiveness of the union going forward. It's going to limit what they're going to be able to collect and really the scope of what they're going to be able to do," said Richardson.

The decision is unlikely to affect the state's teachers' union or state employees union.

Vermont Teachers' Union Spokesperson Darren Allen says while the court spared his organization, he's very disappointed by the decision.

"It's not the worst-case scenario, but it is the continuation of the conservative majority's attack on working men and women," said Allen.

"We've certainly been on pins and needles," said Elsa Bosma, home child care worker.

Bosma is a home child care worker who argued against legislation allowing people like her to unionize.

Despite the court's ruling in her favor, she says the decision does not mark the end of the labor fight.

"We are definitely in the stages of mounting a rigorous challenge to the AFT and any other organizations that are looking to represent us," said Bosma.

A representative of the union expected to represent child care workers, American Federation of Teachers, told WCAX they're still working to understand the impacts of the ruling, but he said they'll file the paperwork to start the process of beginning a union in late-summer or early-fall.

The union covers about 800 of the state's 7,000 to 8,000 potential members. She says they have not been collecting agency fees and dues amount to about 2 percent of her annual wages.

The representative says she expects membership to grow given the union's recent formation.

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