Illinoisan hailed as hero for fighting forced union dues; high court to take case
What started as one man fighting being forced to pay union fees might change business as usual for unions across the country.
Mark Janus, a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, has been in a legal battle with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees since 2005, according to the Liberty Justice Center.
Pat Hughes, president of the center, is spearheading the case, which is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“What we’re arguing to the Supreme Court and what we hope they recognize is that this is a violation of Mark Janus’ First Amendment rights,” Hughes told Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson, the hosts of "Chicago’s Morning Answer" radio show. “He shouldn’t be forced to associate with the union by being forced to pay fees to that union."
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Hughes argues that the fair share fees that Janus was forced to pay are used by the union for political activities. He said everything a public sector union does is political, including collective bargaining.
“You can’t force someone to give money against their will to a political cause because obviously money is equivalent to speech under the First Amendment,” Hughes said.
The union is arguing that Janus and others like him benefit from its negotiations on their behalf and they therefore should pay dues, according to Hughes.
The union also argues that the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education set a precedent for Janus’ case. That case made it legal for unions to collect fees that could be used for political or non-political reasons, according to Fox News.
Janus' case could have national implications for some union workers, though not all.
“It will end forced unionization in the public union space, and there will be right-to-work for public union workers," Hughes said. "It doesn’t impact private unions."
Hughes called Janus a hero for taking on the union.
“Our goals, hopes and expectations are that we do good by him by winning this case in front of the Supreme Court,” Hughes said.
The case will be taken up by the Supreme Court by the end of June 2018.