Despite a Supreme Court decision, Illinois government has knuckled under pressure from the Serivce Employees International Union (SEIU) and requires all state home caregivers to attend “training sessions,” where caregivers are required to endure lectures ab out union membership. Additionally, the state is paying SEIU union bosses for the service.
Paul Kersey, Labor Director for the Illinois Policy Institute, tells how Institute employees were harassed by Service Employee International Union (SEIU) bosses for telling home caregivers about their rights under Harris V. Quinn.
Illinois Policy staff members have been present outside most of these training sessions, peacefully passing out literature and letting attendees, know that because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn, they are not obligated to join the union or pay any union dues anymore.
The SEIU has been visibly upset at our presence. SEIU staffers have harassed us by shouting and confiscating our literature from caregivers’ hands and bags as they enter the meeting room. This week, their tactics intensified: The SEIU complained to the state about our presence in public buildings, and Illinois Policy was threatened with arrest.
State police at both the Rockford CMS building and the Bilandic building in downtown Chicago have threatened members of the Illinois Policy team with arrest. In Rockford, members of our team were told we were only allowed in these public buildings if we did not talk to people about leaving the union.
But by and large, our efforts have gone on without interference, as they should. A government building is generally considered a public forum where speech and leafleting is allowed as long as it is not disruptive. Our staff members have been passing out leaflets at buildings throughout the state for months, without any complaints from the public and without disrupting government business, including the training sessions themselves. State government officers have generally allowed us to distribute leaflets without interfering.
Threatening our team with arrest for exercising First Amendment rights and letting others know about their rights was completely unjustified. The Illinois Policy Institute is investigating this matter, and is prepared to initiate litigation if necessary to protect its own rights, and those of caregivers. And if nothing else, the SEIU’s bully tactics and state government’s willingness to confiscate and stifle speech they don’t like says a lot about whose interests they really are looking out for: their own.