A U.S. Supreme Court ruling today means state workers can no longer be forced to pay union fees if they choose not to be a member of the union.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner hailed the decision in Janus v. AFSCME as a major victory for public sector workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and association and a victory for taxpayers who must bear the high cost of government.
The governor said that the decision will help combat the conflicts of interest created when government union leaders negotiate with politicians they help elect.
“For decades, Illinois workers have been forced to pay partial union dues against their will,” Rauner said. “The practice infringed on the constitutional rights of public sector workers who were asked to give up their First Amendment rights as a condition of employment. This decision fairly reinstates those rights.”
In 2015, shortly after taking office, Gov. Rauner issued an Executive Order to protect workers’ freedom of speech and initiated the lawsuit against AFSCME arguing compulsory fees for non-union government workers were unconstitutional. The suit was later taken up by Illinois child support specialist Mark Janus and the Liberty Justice Center and resulted in today’s SCOTUS decision.
Prior to today’s ruling, paying union fees was compulsory whether a government worker was a union member or not, and whether a worker agreed with the union’s political agenda or not. The fees average more than 80 percent of full union dues.
Rauner said that the state of Illinois will stop withholding ‘fair share’ fees from non-union member paychecks. He also said that Illinois state workers will be notified of the Janus ruling today and be given an opportunity to modify their union status. The average state employee union member in Illinois pays more than $900 a year in fees.
“This ruling is pro-worker and pro-taxpayer,” Rauner said. “State employees – union and non-union – do tremendous work for the people of Illinois. This ruling is a great victory for our democracy, our public employees, and the taxpayers who count on us to bargain on their behalf.”
The significance of the court’s decision will be felt not just in Illinois, but across America. It is estimated that there are 5 million public employee union members in 22 states who could be affected by today’s ruling.
“I am proud of what we started three years ago on behalf of state employees and taxpayers,” Rauner said. “We are grateful to Mark Janus and the Liberty Justice Center for joining with me to bring this important issue to its rightful conclusion.”