The U.S. Supreme court Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that could have an impact on every public employees union in the country.
FOX 32 News talked Monday with the woman who, along with her severely disabled son, is at the center of the dispute.
This case started when Pam Harris of Winthrop Harbor insisted that despite being a paid care-giver for her son, she should not be required to join and pay dues to a caregivers union.
Twenty-five-year-old Josh Harris has Rubenstein-Taybi syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left him severely mentally and physically disabled. State law allows his mother to receive Medicaid payments for his in-home care, but when Governor Quinn signed an executive order four years ago allowing workers like her to be treated like state employees, and unionized, she was furious. She sued, claiming union dues would come out of the money meant to care for her son.
"This is public dollars intended to support individuals with disabilities. It is not public funding intended to support the union," Harris said.
Some legal experts say this case could cripple the ability of public unions to collect dues. Harris sees it as unions interfering in a family relationship.
"Union workplaces have to display the union bulletin board. Well, where should be put it? On the mantle? The inconsistencies of unionism in a family home are so overwhelming that it borders on being a ludicrous discussion," Harris argued.
At the Service employees International Union today, caregivers who have organized in recent years boarded a van for D.C., to show their support for the union. They recalled the days when caregivers received a dollar an hour, and disabled individuals were forced into institutions because of the lack of home care.
"After we became a union, our working conditions improved dramatically, and so did the quality of home care for seniors and people with disabilities," said union member Flora Johnson
Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office will represent Governor Quinn at the Supreme Court. A spokesperson told FOX 32 Monday that this case is about providing quality care with a stable workforce, and allowing caregivers to organize has furthered those goals.