The Supreme Court is issuing labor law decisions at a fast and furious pace this week. Today's decision, Harris v. Quinn, struck down an Illinois law that had previously required non-union Medicaid homecare providers to pay fees equivalent to union dues to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a public employee union. The rationale had been that such employees should be required to pay fees to help cover the union's costs of collective bargaining. Although it invalided the Illinois regulation, the Supreme Court did not go so far as to overturn wholesale a long-standing precedent allowing other unions to impose fees on non-union workers.
Although it is not the normal response by management, there are some circumstances when employers are not opposed to the unionization of their workers. This has certainly not been our experience, but some executives feel the union apparatus could decrease their burdens in handling personnel matters. Others may survey the situation and, seeing union certification as inevitable, opt to try forming a working relationship with the union as early as possible rather than fighting an uphill campaign against it. This leads some employers to actually enter into agreements with unions to facilitate the election and certification process. However, employers who choose to take this route should be wary.