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By February 26, 2018 0 Comments Read More →

Scary Day for Police Unions

Today, the Supreme Court will hear the Janus case. Their decision on whether mandatory collection of union dues is a violation of a person’s right of free speech will have a huge—and potentially devastating—effect on unions representing public sector workers like police, firefighters, and teachers.

In the first article, which was posted to “Inside Sources” website, reporter Mark Janus talks about why he is fighting mandatory dues collection. The second article is an expose about the individuals and organizations behind the efforts to destroy unions in this country – battles they have been waging for decades. And guess what – it’s the same groups that are funding Mark Janus and his legal battle that’s now before the Supreme Court.Cynthia Brown, PubSecAlliance

Why is Mark Janus Fighting Union Dues?

Connor Wolf writes: “Illinois state worker Mark Janus said his fight is not about the money but rather helping all workers. Janus made the comments Thursday while discussing his case to outlaw mandatory union dues in the public-sector.

Janus works as a child support specialist for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. His fight against organized labor began when he was forced to fund a union he doesn’t support. But for him it’s not just about the fees he is forced to pay, it’s about all workers stuck in a similar situation.

“It’s that lack of choice that I’m fighting against, and it’s not just for me, it’s for all public-sector workers,” Janus said when asked by InsideSources. “It’s the fact that you have to stand up for something because if we didn’t have principles, where would we be as a country.”

Janus was speaking at a dinner hosted by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) and the Liberty Justice Center (LJC) – which have been assisting him in his lawsuit by providing legal assistance. The groups hosted the dinner to give a handful of reporters, who have closely followed the case, a chance to meet him.

The U.S. Supreme Court found that unions could require fees from nonmembers during the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That decision also found that unions must also provide nonmembers the option of paying a fee which can only cover the cost of representing that worker – and not political activities.

The lawsuit argues that public-sector collective bargaining and political lobbying are indistinguishable. Public-sector unions negotiate with the government because of the workers they represent. Thus, the lawsuit asserts, all public-sector union dues and fees should be optional because they are inherently political.

Janus also wanted to make clear that he is not against unions themselves. He believes there is a place for unions and collective bargaining. Rather he simply believes that workers should have a choice on whether they want to be associated with and fund such an organization.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the specific union being challenged, argues that mandatory payments are needed to ensure unions are able to properly protect workers and their workplace rights. The union also argues the lawsuit is an attack by corporate interests to hurt that mission.


Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors

FEB. 25, 2018
The New York Times

In the summer of 2016, government workers in Illinois received a mailing that offered them tips on how to leave their union. By paying a so-called fair-share fee instead of standard union dues, the mailing said, they would no longer be bound by union rules and could not be punished for refusing to strike.

“To put it simply,” the document concluded, “becoming a fair-share payer means you will have more freedom.”

The mailing, sent by a group called the Illinois Policy Institute, may have seemed like disinterested advice. In fact, it was one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right. It is an effort that will reach its apex on Monday, when the Supreme Court hears a case that could cripple public-sector unions by allowing the workers they represent to avoid paying fees.

One of the institute’s largest donors is a foundation bankrolled by Richard Uihlein, an Illinois industrialist who has spent millions backing Republican candidates in recent years, including Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois.

Tax filings show that Mr. Uihlein has also been the chief financial backer in recent years of the Liberty Justice Center, which represents Mark Janus, the Illinois child support specialist who is the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case.

And Mr. Uihlein has donated well over $1 million over the years to groups like the Federalist Society that work to orient the judiciary in a more conservative direction. They have helped produce a Supreme Court that most experts expect to rule in Mr. Janus’s favor.

The case illustrates the cohesiveness with which conservative philanthropists have taken on unions in recent decades. “It’s a mistake to look at the Janus case and earlier litigation as isolated episodes,” said Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, a Columbia University political scientist who studies conservative groups. “It’s part of a multipronged, multitiered strategy.”

In doing so, these donors have not just brought labor to the brink of crisis but threatened the Democratic Party as well.

Amid changes in the campaign finance landscape and the decline of private-sector unions, the party and its candidates have increasingly relied on major public unions for funding, including hundreds of millions of dollars in direct and indirect spending during the 2016 presidential cycle. Those unions include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, whose Council 31 is the defendant in the Janus case.


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