How Adult Foster Care Home Providers in Oregon Can Opt Out of SEIU 503 Dues
In 2013, SEIU 503 and the state agreed to seek approval from the federal Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services to start forcing providers to pay union dues. Under the agreement, the state would automatically withhold union dues from providers’ state payments.
Before the scheme could be implemented, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the June 2014 case Harris v. Quinn that it was unconstitutional to require “partial-public employees” like state-paid adult foster care home providers to pay union dues against their will.
The court referred to the requirement for partial-public employees like adult foster care home providers to pay union dues as a money-making “scheme” for the union and ruled that mandatory dues requirements violated providers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.
While SEIU 503 can no longer technically force providers to pay dues, that hasn’t stopped it from trying. The union has continued its push to get the state to deduct dues directly from providers’ pay, instead of having to seek payment from providers themselves. SEIU 503 and the state of Oregon recently argued before the Employment Relations Board over who should pay for the cost of implementing the system to withhold union dues from providers’ reimbursements.
But the union can only take your money if you authorize it. Carefully examine anything SEIU 503 asks you to sign.
State-paid home care and personal support workers are also represented by SEIU 503 and covered by the Harris decision. Hundreds of these caregivers have sought to exercise their First Amendment right to opt out of union membership and cease paying any dues or fees, only to get caught up in SEIU 503’s scheme of automatic, “forced” payments. Here’s how it works:
- The state, on behalf of the union, automatically withholds money straight from providers’ paychecks, as though it was collecting taxes.
- The union then sets an arbitrary 15-day window (in the fine print of the union membership card) as the only time during which it will process opt-out requests. This is different for each worker and is meant to be overlooked. If the union receives an opt-out form outside this window, it denies the request and continues charging fees.
- Although the fees are technically optional, the effect of this scheme is to drastically limit the chance to opt out and force as many workers as possible to continue paying against their will.
Unfortunately, the union’s recent complaint shows that it wants to apply this scheme to adult foster care home providers, as well. So far, you have the ability to freely choose whether to pay union dues or not. To be sure you don’t get stuck in the 15-day window and forced-payment scheme, complete this form and mail it to SEIU 503 via certified mail.
Remember, signing up for or renewing membership in SEIU 503 will make it very difficult to exercise your right to opt out in the future. If the union asks you to sign anything, know your rights and read carefully.