Hill v. SEIU

Can the state appoint an “exclusive representative” to speak to the government on your behalf, whether you like it or not, just because you benefit from a government program? That’s the issue the federal courts must decide in Hill v. SEIU.

As governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich initiated schemes that forced two groups of people who receive government subsidies, but who aren’t state employees, into a union. One of those groups consisted of “personal assistants”: people who receive Medicaid subsidies to take care of severely disabled persons at home rather than having them institutionalized. Many personal assistants are related to, and live with, the people for whom they care. The other group consisted of child care providers: small-business owners who run home day care programs that serve at least one child whose family receives state child care assistance, and other people who receive assistance to take care of children (often their own grandchildren or other family members) in their homes.

As a result of these schemes, personal assistants and child care providers were forced to pay millions in fees to the union the state recognized as their “exclusive representative,” the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU.

In a 2014 decision, Harris v. Quinn, the U.S. Supreme Court said forcing people who aren’t actually state employees to pay union fees violates their First Amendment rights.

But those Illinois schemes are still in place. Although providers can now refuse to pay union fees, the state still recognizes SEIU as their “exclusive representative.”

In Hill v. SEIU, the Liberty Justice Center is suing on behalf of personal assistants and child care providers who don’t want to support the SEIU to end the SEIU’s exclusive representation. The plaintiffs argue that the government’s appointment of an exclusive representative to speak on their behalf violates their First Amendment right to freedom of association.

Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are representing the plaintiffs in Hill v. SEIU. The Liberty Justice Center’s lead attorney in the case is Jacob Huebert. For more information, or to schedule an interview with Jacob about the case, contact Diana Rickert at 312.607.4977 or by email at drickert@illinoispolicy.org.