With their billion dollar forced dues machine, Big Labor has manged to hold an iron-fist group over public sector employees and force them to pay tribute to a union boss just to get or keep a job.
That grip may soon come to an end with one Foundation case seeking to end forced dues or fees for all public sector workers, Janus v. AFSCME, poised to be heard by the Supreme Court.
About the Case
On February 9, 2015, relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn (more information below), newly elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from enforcing state bargaining agreement provisions requiring nonmember state employees to pay union fees and directing that any fees deducted be placed in escrow pending the resolution of litigation over the constitutionality of the forced fee provisions. On the same day Governor Rauner sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the unions collecting forced fees from state employees for a declaratory judgment that the forced fee provisions violate the First Amendment and that his executive order is valid.
On March 23, 2015, Foundation staff attorneys filed a motion, eventually granted by the court, to intervene as plaintiffs for Mark Janus and two other Illinois state employees who are compelled to pay union fees as a condition of their jobs. Their accompanying complaint requested not only a declaratory judgment, but also an injunction against and damages from the unions to which they are compelled to pay fees.
Although the court eventually ruled that Governor Rauner did not have standing necessary to file his lawsuit, the challenge continues on behalf of the three employees. On July 2, 2015, the Attorney General moved to stay the case pending the Supreme Court’s decision in Friedrichs which the court granted on July 8, 2015. After deadlock in Friedrichs left in place union bosses forced dues powers for the time being a District Court judge dismissed the case citing Friedrichs.
The Foundation along with the Liberty Justice Center, filed an appeal to the Seventh Court of Appeals in October 2016. Hearings were held on March 1st 2017. On March 21, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Illinois district court which ruled that the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education precedent applied to Janus v. AFSCME. The decision by the Seventh Circuit, which was expected, allows Foundation staff attorneys to next file a writ of certiorari to ask the United States Supreme Court to take the case.
About Mark Janus
Mark Janus works at the Illinois Department of Healthcare Services as a child support specialist. To read an op-ed that Mark wrote in the Chicago Tribune please click here.
He is forced to pay union dues or fees for the privilege of working for his own state government.
Selected Media Coverage
Mark Janus Op-ed (Chicago Tribune)
A Supreme Court Absence is Felt (Wall Street Journal Editorial)
Trump justice nominee means Illinois’ fair share case could lead to national right-to-work law (Illinois News Network)
2016 – Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association
California public school teacher Rebecca Friedrichs along with eight other teachers, brought forth a challenge that argued Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment; and it violates the First Amendment to require that public employees affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public-sector unions, rather than requiring that employees affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech. Unfortunately, Justice Scalia’s untimely death resulted in a 4-4 deadlock and kept the Appeals Court decision that denied the challenge to Abood .
2014 – Harris v. Quinn
The Court held five-to-four that an Illinois requirement that nonunion Medicaid-funded home-care personal assistants pay union fees violates the First Amendment. The Court refused to extend Abood, which upheld forced fees imposed on public employees to the extent that they are used for collective bargaining, to the “new situation” before it, “[b]ecause of Abood’s questionable foundations, and because the personal assistants are quite different from full-fledged public employees.” This holding renders unconstitutional similar forced-fee schemes imposed on providers in at least thirteen other states.
To watch an interview with plaintiff Pam Harris please click here.
2012 – Knox v. Service Employees International Union
In 2005, the California State Employees Association (CSEA) union, a local affiliate of the SEIU, imposed a “special assessment” on every civil servant in its bargaining unit to pay for a campaign to defeat several California ballot initiatives. The Court Supreme Court struck down the scheme in a precedent-setting ruling issued on June 21, 2012 that applied strict scrutiny to forced union dues or fees for the first time. The Court’s majority ruled that government union officials must obtain affirmative consent from workers before using workers’ forced union fees for union politicking.
To watch an interview with Foundation staff attorney and lead plaintiff Dianne Knox please click here.
1977 – Abood v. Detroit Board of Education
A six-member majority of the Court rejected arguments that the strict scrutiny test should be used when determining whether requiring public employees to pay agency fees to keep their jobs violates the First Amendment. The Court ruled that the agency shop as such is constitutionally valid, but only “insofar as the service charges are applied to collective-bargaining, contract administration, and grievance-adjustment purposes.” The Court unanimously agreed that “a union cannot constitutionally spend [objectors’] funds for the expression of political views, on behalf of political candidates, or toward the advancement of other ideological causes not germane to its duties as collective-bargaining representative.”