“Heroes don’t look like they used to, they look like you do.”
– The Alternate Routes, “Nothing More”
Pam Harris. Ellen Bronfeld. Gordon Stiefel. Joe & Marita Schwartz.
You have likely never heard of these people.
These are individuals who went where preening politicians, corporate titans, and saber-rattling editorialists feared to tread. They took on Governor Pat Quinn and his Service Employees International Union (SEIU) financiers and enforcers—and won.
Five years ago, as the primary caregivers to their developmentally disabled children, these nobodys took on all of the somebodys.
I know because I was another nobody present at the start.
Faced with the prospect of the State of Illinois sanctioning the intervention of a public sector union between them and their children, Pam Harris, et al, took the fight to SEIU and took their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court which held Monday, “The First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from personal assistants in the Rehabilitation Program who do not want to join or support the union.”
In other words, the fact that these families receive a state stipend to provide care for their disabled children does not make them state employees, and thus they should not be compelled to join a union.
Illinoisans should instead feel compelled to support the rare program in which the state has aligned its interests with those of its residents.
By providing a stipend, the program allows a parent to be the primary caregiver to their child resulting in better care at a fraction of the cost of an institutional setting.
When it comes to keeping promises to truly vulnerable populations, whom do you trust? Illinois politicians whose performance has Illinois ranked 51st out of 50 (behind even the District of Columbia) in providing services to the developmentally disabled or the parents of the persons in question?
I would encourage Illinois Republicans who routinely take blood money from SEIU—and that’s what it is—to consider this question next time they are poised to solicit a donation or accept a contribution from an organization that would endeavor to separate parents from their developmentally disabled children for monetary gain.
I would also encourage honest, diligent rank-and-file SEIU members—the janitors, nursing home workers, security guards and bus drivers—who make up the vast majority of the union’s membership to take a hard look at what the leadership of their union attempted to do here. What would you have done if it had been your child’s care under threat from an unwanted outsider?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Governor Quinn’s practice of taking away the rights of those without a voice is not okay.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Governor Quinn’s practice of treating other human beings as the means to his political ends is not okay.
Illinois got just a little bit more civilized.