Should Family Caretakers Have to Join the Union?

Should Family Caretakers Have to Join the Union?

Illinois legislators have a history of getting involved in areas that they need to stay out of. Perhaps, it keeps them from having to make cuts in their own pensions. The latest fiasco is over whether the family caretakers of disabled family members given money for home care through the State should be unionized as part of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union.)

Governor Quinn says, yes and signed an executive order in 2009. With backing from the SEIU and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, this controversial law is before the U.S. Supreme Court as to if it is constitutional to force family members caring for their disabled to be obligated to join the SEIU. The order classifies parents like Pam Harris, the Illinois mom who stood up to the union and Illinois government in this suit, as “public employees”, but only for the sake of collective bargaining.

The primary question before the Supreme Court is whether fair share laws that require non-union members to pay union dues, trump someone’s First Amendment rights to free speech and not to be in the union. The Supreme Court will be taking a closer look at how government unions operate.

One argument in this spirited issue is that families like Pam Harris do receive monies from the State of Illinois and the State should be able to have some control of the process. We know how important it is to have State monies for the disabled since the cost is expensive to care for a disabled person. Could the State cut off benefits for the care of a disabled person if the family caretakers don’t join the union?

This raises an important issue as to the control we have as siblings and parents of our disabled family members and how much leverage we have over the care of them when receiving government money.

What are your thoughts on this important issue?


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  • If you simply "take care" of your relatives, I don't believe that there would be any question of you having to join a union. If, however, you choose to collect money for that care, then yes, you are "working", and you're benefiting from union representation in collective bargaining, and I do believe that you should pay for it. Unions are malaligned these days, and I have to admit that they've deserved it. They are the victims of greedy union officials who have gone too far. But in the past, Unions have been responsible for most of the rights that workers enjoy today including the 40 hour week, overtime pay, etc. I've never been a union member myself, but my dad was a strict Teamster, and I learned from him to respect that unions that work to protect and extend our rights.

  • What about strikes? Who is really going to walk away from their own family member?

  • Once you takes the government money you are on their plantation, and even in this twisted way, the unions will make sure they get their cut.

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