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Missouri Home Care Union Clears Final Legal Hurdle

November 15, 2012

The Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the unionization of the state’s home care workers, clearing a path for the Missouri Home Care Union‘s (MHCU) first-ever contract with the state.

Efforts to unionize the 13,000 workers in the state’s Consumer-Directed Personal Care Assistance (PCA) Program began in 2008 and have faced numerous legal challenges since, effectively delaying the union’s ability to negotiate a contract.

But the state Supreme Court’s October 30 decision to refuse to hear yet another challenge represented a “climactic victory” for the union, according to a press release issued by the MHCU.

“By rebuffing the request to hear an appeal in that case, the Supreme Court…effectively squelched the last gasp effort by opponents to derail those negotiations,” the MHCU press release says.

Long Path to Unionization

The path to unionization began in 2008, when Missouri voters passed a ballot initiative giving workers in the Consumer-Directed PCA Program the right to unionize.

Workers voted to unionize in 2009 and 2010, but results of both elections were tossed out in court when anti-union activists challenged them, citing voting irregularities.

In May 2012, however, a state appeals court ruled that the state had to uphold the 2010 election.

Home care companies — led by Springfield-based mini-chain Integra Healthcare — appealed that case to the state Supreme Court, which refused to hear arguments, essentially validating the legality of the union.

The MHCU is now in a position to bargain with the state for better working conditions and higher wages, according to an article in the Springfield News-Leader.

The MHCU is a partnership between SEIU and AFSCME.

— by Matthew Ozga

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