Illinois mom who is sick son’s caretaker fights state law mandating unionization


by Howard Portnoy

Pam Harris, whose son Josh is the light of her life, never wanted to be a crusader. Her sole mission has been caring for Josh, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, and spends most of his days in a wheelchair. Harris is his primary caregiver.

But the fight came to her, and today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in her case against the state of Illinois and its governor. explains:

Josh and his family qualify for an Illinois home-based support-services program that lets disabled adults live at home. He gets $721 each month from Medicaid to cover the costs of the constant supervision he requires.

To the Service Employees International Union and Illinois’ Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, the fact that Josh’s mother receives a small government stipend given to home health-care workers makes her a state employee subject to forced unionization.

Under an Illinois law crafted by the incarcerated former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and enforced by his successor Quinn, home caregivers like Harris are designated state employees required to pay dues whether they join the union or not.

Some other relevant details in the case include these facts: (1) The 55-year-old Harris is earns less than the minimum wage. (2) SEIU donated nearly $5 million in contributions to Quinn’s gubernatorial campaign.

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