Plaintiff in Janus case wants his union dues back
- By Lia Russell
- Mar 11, 2020
The former government worker at the center of a 2018 Supreme Court case that stripped public sector unions' ability to charge non-members for representation is now petitioning the high court to allow him to recoup years of union dues.
Attorneys representing Mark Janus, a former Illinois child support specialist and plaintiff in the 2018 court case Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31filed a petition on March 9 asking the Supreme Court to force the union to pay back union dues that had been automatically deducted from his paychecks between March 2013 and June 2018.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represented Janus during his 2018 case, announced the petition effort on its website.
The Supreme Court decided on June 27, 2018 that public sector unions could not charge mandatory representation fees to government employees who opted to not join the union, ruling that it was a violation of workers' freedom of speech.
"The Supreme Court agreed that the union taking money from nonmembers was wrong but the union still has the money it illegally garnished from my paycheck," Janus said in the Foundation petition announcement.
The June 2018 decision was decided 5-4 along ideological lines. In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said that the decision was a major loss for millions of public sector union members whose unions would struggle to represent all workers during negotiations without the benefit of union dues.
"Public employee unions will lose a secure source of financial support. State and local governments that thought fair-share provisions furthered their interests will need to find new ways of managing their workforces. Across the country, the relationships of public employees and employers will alter in both predictable and wholly unexpected ways."
Janus had previously argued his 2018 case before the Court of Appeals in District 7, which rejected his claim that his union dues should be returned because they were being used to fund political activities.
"Federal courts across the country continue to reject these attempts by corporate interests to manipulate the judiciary against working people and trample on their rights and freedom to join together in a union," AFSCME General Counsel Judith Rivlin said in a statement.
Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.
Contact Lia at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.