Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said Monday that Maryland would review its collective bargaining arrangement for home-care workers following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that workers in Illinois could not be required to pay fees to cover a union’s negotiating costs.
“We are still reviewing the details of the decision, but we are disappointed with the outcome,” O’Malley said.
The ruling was limited to home health-care workers, who primarily serve elderly and disabled people and are “different from full-fledged public employees,” according to the majority opinion of the court.
At issue was whether the workers could be compelled to pay union dues if they choose not to join the union representing their interests in collective bargaining — a practice that Maryland has followed since 2010.
“Maryland has derived enormous benefit from our home-care system, which includes collective bargaining,” O’Malley said. “Our system enables the state to accomplish important goals — like ensuring an adequate and well-training home-care workforce — and exclusive representation and fair-share fees play an important role in a fair and effective collective bargaining system.”
O’Malley said the state would try to keep its system “as much intact as possible’ after reviewing the court decision. There are about 8,300 home-care workers in Maryland, according to O’Malley’s office.
Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Maryland Council 3, the largest union of state employees, said the court decision would have been worse if it applied more broadly.
“Today’s ruling did not hand anti-worker extremists the victory over our hard-working families they’d hoped for,” he said. “State and university employees still have contracts and can still choose to vote for contracts that require all workers who benefit from them to pay a fair share fee.”
O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 White House bid, was also critical Monday of another court ruling that some companies may refuse to offer insurance coverage of specific birth control methods if they conflict with the owner’s religious beliefs.
“No woman should have her health care decisions made by her boss. Period,” O’Malley said on Twitter. “This decision is wrong and a setback for women’s health.”