* From a press release…
Illinois law forces most employees of state government to pay money to a union as a condition of keeping their jobs. Even though state employees aren’t forced to be full-fledged union members, they are required to pay fees to the union whether or not they want representation. Today, three state workers represented by the Liberty Justice Center have taken legal action to end that practice.
In February, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order to stop collecting “fair share” union fees from employees of state government who are not union members. Gov. Rauner simultaneously filed a federal lawsuit asking a federal judge in Chicago – and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court – to declare mandatory non-member union fees unconstitutional. The three state workers represented by the LJC have filed a motion in federal court seeking to intervene in that lawsuit.
“The First Amendment guarantees everyone the right to choose whose speech they support and what groups they associate with. State workers shouldn’t have to sacrifice that right just to keep their jobs,” said Jacob Huebert, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “No one should be forced to pay money to a government union to keep their job. In filing this motion, these state workers are asking the court to protect their fundamental First Amendment rights and the rights of all state workers.”
The motion was filed this morning in federal court. It is available online here: https://d2dv7hze646xr.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/92-main-92-2.pdf
Background: In February, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order to stop collecting “fair share” fees from people who work for state government and are not full-union members. Gov. Rauner simultaneously filed a federal lawsuit asking a federal judge in Chicago – and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court – to declare non-member union fees unconstitutional.
Government unions and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the court to dismiss Rauner’s lawsuit, arguing the governor did not have standing to bring this suit because he has not been required to pay union fees.
Regardless of how the court rules on the standing issue, the three state workers taking legal action today do have standing to challenge these union fees. For years, they have been forced to pay money to a union against their will, just to keep their jobs. These plaintiffs seek to intervene in this lawsuit to make sure that their fundamental First Amendment rights are protected.
Due to the magnitude of this case, it may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court is positioned to rule that mandatory non-member union fees are unconstitutional based on of its June 2014 ruling in Harris v. Quinn, in which a home health worker challenged former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. In the Harris decision, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote that a 1977 decision allowing mandatory non-member union fees was “questionable.” In Harris, a majority of the high court ruled that requiring home health workers to pay mandatory union fees was a violation of their First Amendment rights.
The Liberty Justice Center is a “public interest law firm started by the Illinois Policy Institute,” according to an earlier press release.
The three plaintiffs are Mark Janus, Marie Quigley, and Brian Trygg. Janus works for IDOT, the others work for Healthcare and Family Services.
* From the complaint…
[Mark Janus] does not agree with what he views as the union’s one-sided politicking for only its point of view. Janus also believes that AFSCME’s behavior in bargaining does not appreciate the current fiscal crises in Illinois and, does not reflect his best interests or the interests of Illinois citizens. […]
[Marie Quigley] also objects to many of AFSCME’s public-policy positions, including the positions that AFSCME advocates for in collective bargaining.
For example, she disagrees with AFSCME’s negotiation of contract terms that favor seniority over employee merit for purposes of layoffs and promotions, is concerned about the effect that AFSCME’s bargaining behavior is having on the Illinois budget, believes that union representatives are only looking out for themselves at the expense of union members and the people of Illinois, and does not believe that AFSCME is acting in her best interest or in the best interests of Illinois citizens. […]
[Brian Trygg] has sincere religious objections to associating with Teamsters Local 916 and its agenda. Trygg also believes that Teamsters Local 916 harms Illinois residents by objecting to efforts by the State to reduce costs that would allow public funds to be made available for more important uses. For example, the Union resists any furlough days, despite the State’s budget issues.
*** UPDATE *** Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan…
“It’s no surprise that corporate-funded, anti-worker organizations are supporting Gov. Rauner’s illegal executive order. The Right To Work Foundation and Illinois Policy Institute are corporate shell groups looking to further erode middle class economic security to boost the objectives of their benefactors. We will protect the integrity of the law, our collective bargaining agreements and the rights of all workers from these politically motivated attacks.
“The issues raised in the Governor’s lawsuit and by the interveners were decided long ago by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case called Abood. The concept of charging employees for non-political union representation is permitted under the First Amendment. We are opposed to workers having a free ride where the union is required to represent them without reimbursement for representation expenses that are non-political in nature.”