An upcoming Supreme Court case will determine whether government workers have to give a portion of their paycheck to a union.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday (February 26) in a case known as Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31.
"Mark Janus is a child support specialist for the state of Illinois," says attorney Jacob Huebert of Liberty Justice Center, one of the organizations representing Janus. "He's forced to pay money out of every paycheck to a union, and so he's suing the state of Illinois and the union to protect his First Amendment right to choose for himself whether he's going to support a political advocacy organization like a union."
Janus is not a member of the union, and while AFSCME acknowledges that each public sector worker chooses whether or not to join a union, AFSCME adds the union is still required by law to represent and negotiate on behalf of all public sector workers, members and non-members alike:
"All employees receive the wage increases, benefits and workplace rights negotiated through the union. The corporate special interests behind this case want to take away our ability to build strength in numbers. That is why they want the Supreme Court to rule that workers can receive all the benefits of a union contract without contributing anything in return. All workers should chip in their fair share to cover the cost of representing them."
"Often you see this covered and you see stories quoting the unions or politicians who are friendly to unions saying this is an effort to destroy organized labor or something like that – and that simply isn't true," he answers. "All this case will do is give workers a choice as to whether to give their money to a union."
The attorney adds that a ruling in Janus's favor will not change anything else for the union. "They'll still have the same right to represent workers that they have now," he continues. "They'll still have all the other abilities they have now. They just will have to fund their activities with money that people give them voluntarily."
The Supreme Court was split (4-4) the last time it heard arguments related to this issue. That was after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. His replacement, Justice Neil Gorsuch, is believed to be the deciding vote this time around.
William Messenger of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation will be arguing the case for Janus.