02 March, 2018
All eyes will be on Justice Neil Gorsuch Monday when the court takes up a challenge to an IL law that allows unions representing government employees to collect fees from workers who choose not to join.
The case, known in legal circles as Janus v. AFSCME, involves a child support specialist for the state of IL named Mark Janus who is challenging a requirement that forced him to pay fees that were created to cover the cost of the union representing him.
Although Gorsuch was at the arguments, he and Justice Clarence Thomas - who generally asks no questions at oral argument - were the only two silent justices for the hourlong arguments that had four different lawyers making their case for or against the agency fees. Supreme Court made it clear that they will outlaw a key source of financial backing for public employee unions.
Justice Neil Gorsuch was appointed by President Donald Trump to replace Scalia and Hebert believes he'll stick with his fellow conservatives, which could have some far reaching repercussions.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case Monday that could hurt public-employee unions by outlawing fair share representation fees paid by nonmembers in states that allow them. Therefore, he does not think he should pay fair share fees, only full-share participants.
It's an argument supported by some Republican state lawmakers who have filed a brief supporting the unions and arguing the decision should be left to the states. The group is representing IL worker Mark Janus in his Supreme Court challenge.
"I work for Healthcare and Family Services and I'm forced to pay money to a union who then supports political causes that I don't agree with", stated Janus.
That 1977 decision has allowed unions to avoid "free rider" public employees who get the benefits of a union's work without paying any dues. Janus argues that it is unconstitutional to force a worker to contribute to a union based on principals they disagree with.
Union members working for the county pay dues that are less than $2 per each $100 of gross pay, excluding any overtime pay, said Rachel Shaw, a business agent for the Service Employees International Union Local 668, which represents about 300 county workers.
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"The constitution is a contract with the American people, and that contract says I have right to freedom of speech and association, " he said.
Supporters of Janus say he shouldn't have to pay fair-share fees on First Amendment grounds.
"If people don't have to pay anything, we're going to end up underfunding our unions, and eventually they'll be crippled by it".
Union leaders also say it is a crucial source of income for all their activities, from representing workers in contract negotiations to election spending. Experts say the case could strike a mortal blow to public employee unions and, by extension, Democratic Party coffers. I said, "I'm no 'artist.' I'm a reporter!"
The attorney for the union, David C. Frederick, was a law partner of Gorsuch's when he was in private practice. The union said it was the latest in a series of attacks on unions.
It's called Janus v.
Pennsylvania is one of 22 states in which public sector unions bargain for both the members and non-members.
"When have we ever done something like that?"