Center Criticizes State Labor Relations Board Decision to Dismiss Request

Providence, RI — In a brief and vague letter, the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) dismissed a request by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity to await the landmark precedent that the U.S. Supreme Court will likely set in early 2014 about whether or not independent home care providers can be classified as a kind of public employee solely for the purpose of unionization. Submitting its request in the interests of the Rhode Island taxpayer, the Center had suggested that no election should be held for the certification of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to represent the providers until the Constitutionality of doing so is clarified.

“It is the epitome of irresponsibility to rush into this election without any public debate and legal analysis of how the Supreme Court’s planned hearings, or the recent federal appeals court ruling, might affect plans here in our state. The highest court in the land has clearly signaled that there may be a constitutional issue with forced unionization”, commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “It would be totally unfair to child care providers to conduct an election under this cloud, only to find out in a few months that the entire process may soon be ruled as unconstitutional.”The letter of dismissal, SLRB Administrator Robyn Golden states that SLRB “policy” leaves the Center with no standing to make requests of the government board. She goes on to assert that “it is also not within the Board’s statutory autority to act on your request or any requests of this nature.”

Neither state law nor policy places restrictions upon the parties permitted to petition the board with information relevant to its decisions. Moreover, regulations place no restrictions upon the board in the course of scheduling elections for union representation. According to regulation 8.02.5, “it shall provide that such election be conducted by an Agent of the Board at such time and place, and upon terms or conditions, as the Board may specify.”

“The Rhode Island taxpayer has every right to ask the SLRB to avoid lawsuits associated with potentially unconstitutional laws,” said Stenhouse, “and the board has the authority to take that precaution.”
In authorizing and scheduling an election about whether or not upwards of 680 home child care providers should accept the SEIU as their exclusive union representative, the SLRB would fail to seriously consider the Court’s announcement last week that it will hear a case that will determine whether Illinois home-care providers can be forced into union ranks against their will. Previously, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction to stop a planned election of home child care providers in Minnesota, pending action from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, the Center published a report highlighting concerns that unionization may cause for taxpayers, service providers, and other independent business owners. All related information can be viewed on the Center’s website at .
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a nonpartisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. The Center works to make a profound, positive impact on the lives of every family and business in the state through the exchange of market-based ideas and reform solutions aimed at restoring economic competitiveness, educational opportunities and – ultimately – hope for a brighter future.
OCTOBER 8, 2013
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