The Supreme Court announced it will hear oral arguments Feb. 26 in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case, when plaintiffs will demand relief from forced union dues for government employees, who are not members of a union.
“Teachers, librarians, firefighters and other public sector workers should have the right to decide for themselves whether to join a union and pay dues,” said Trey Kovacs, a labor policy expert at the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“In the Janus case, the Supreme Court should protect public employees’ right to free speech and strike down laws that force workers to fund political activities and candidates they disagree with,” he said.
The plaintiff in the case is Mark Janus, an employee of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who was stunned to learn that he was required to pay dues to a union he did not join.
“I’ve negotiated my own salary and benefits at plenty of jobs before I started working for the state,” he said.
Janus said he figured he was not the only one in the same situation.
“I just look at it as an average guy standing up for his own rights of free speech,” he said.
Although, he is becoming the center of the legal world’s attention, Janus said he did not deserve special attention, even though his case could save millions of government employees millions of dollars. “I don’t look at it like I’m anybody special or anybody extraordinary.”
What makes the case so significant is that it challenges the high court’s 1977 D. Louis Abood v. Detroit Board of Education decision.
Jacob Huebert, director of litigation at the Liberty Justice Center, said, “We are pleased the Supreme Court has agreed to take up this case and revisit a 40-year-old precedent that has allowed governments to violate the First Amendment rights of millions of workers.”
The Abood decision affirmed the authority of government force its employees to pay dues to unions they did not belong to.
Huebert said because of Abood public sectors workers need relief.
Mark Janus was forced to pay a union he doesn’t support, which uses his money to advocate public policy positions he does not agree with. Thankfully #SCOTUS has a huge opportunity to end this coercion! https://t.co/EznGi005QP
— AFP (@AFPhq) January 26, 2018
“Right now, public sector employees in Illinois and many other states aren’t given a choice: They’re automatically forced to give their money to a union. Janus v. AFSCME presents an opportunity to restore fairness and First Amendment rights to millions of American workers by giving them the right to choose whether to support a union with their money,” he said.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said, “With the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the Janus case, we are now one step closer to freeing over five million public sector teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other employees from the injustice of being forced to subsidize a union as a condition of working for their own government.”
NRTW President Mark Mix: "We welcome the support of the Solicitor General for Mark Janus, in his fight to free every public school teacher, firefighter, police officer, and other government worker from being required to hand over part of their paycheck to union officials." 1/2
— Right To Work (@RightToWork) December 7, 2017
Watch this video about Mark Janus: