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Unclear on the concept

Monday, Feb 26, 2018

* National Politico on the Janus v. AFSCME case and Janus himself

Public-employee unions are barred from spending fair-share fees on electoral politics, but attorneys for the plaintiff, an Illinois state worker named Mark Janus, argue that any action by a government union — even collective bargaining — is inherently political, because it involves the expenditure of state money. Ergo, spending Janus’s money on anything constitutes forced political speech and violates his First Amendment rights. AFSCME counters that since the law requires it to bargain collectively for an entire bargaining unit — including union non-members like Janus — then depriving AFSCME of fair-share fees would make it possible for Janus and others to enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without having to pay for them. Members’ resulting stampede to quit the union and become free riders, says AFSCME, would devastate AFSCME financially — and that’s the real goal.

At a breakfast meeting with reporters Friday, Janus wandered a bit off-script. Far from denouncing collective bargaining as compelled political speech, Janus said “I think unions have a place. Collective bargaining is beneficial to people and workers. But where I draw the line is when somebody tells me that I have to pay something that I don’t agree with.”

Like what? Janus didn’t elaborate. But, writes POLITICO’s Andrew Hanna, Janus “suggested that he opposed AFSCME using his fair-share fee to support the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, and said he’d be troubled if his fair-share fee went to any other candidate, ‘whoever the candidate may be,’ without his being consulted.” Again: the law already bars AFSCME from spending Janus’s fair-share fees on political candidates or causes, and Janus’s lawyers aren’t arguing that AFSCME violated that law. If Janus’s real beef is that AFSCME supported Hillary Clinton, then he isn’t a good plaintiff for this case.

…Adding… From Gov. Rauner…

From Governor Rauner on today’s SCOTUS arguments:

“Shortly after taking office in 2015, I took action to protect the free speech and free association rights of government employees who are forced to pay union dues and fund political causes they don’t agree with. Today, as these arguments are heard before the United States Supreme Court, I am proud of what we started three years ago. The gravity of the court’s decision will be felt not just in Illinois, but across America and I am confident that they will side with free speech for the people of our great nation.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

44 Comments
  1. - Nick Name - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:26 am:

    Bit of a dim bulb, isn’t he.


  2. - Mike Cirrincione - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    Janus is right.

    It’s a violation of the First Amendment for Bruce Rauner to use any tax dollars to pay for his union busting agenda.


  3. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:30 am:

    Hey, Janus got breakfast and a free trip to DC out of it.

    Lucky for him he doesn’t have to speak in court.


  4. - Perrid - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:32 am:

    From a column Janus wrote: “At a time when Illinois is drowning in red ink and does not have the money to deliver core services, such as caring for the poor and disadvantaged, the union is wrangling taxpayers for higher wages and pension benefits for state workers — benefits that Illinoisans cannot afford. The union’s fight is not my fight.”

    He should try to stay on message more.


  5. - Montrose - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:35 am:

    Rauner better hope that the lawyers representing Janus understand the lawsuit a little better than he does.


  6. - 47th Ward - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:39 am:

    For Rauner, this decision might as well be Bush V. Gore. The Supreme Court decision in this case will decide if Rauner remains Governor. If they rule against Janus, I half expect Rauner to resign. His reason for being will be moot until the right wing finds another stooge like Janus to file suit.


  7. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    Oh yes, Rauner really is a champion for the first amendment. That’s totally what this is about.


  8. - Annonin' - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:43 am:

    Janus appears to be a decent guy. What he does not get is if other like him are no longer protected by the union provision he will be first to lose wage and benefits when guys like GovJunk start protecin’ his lst A rights.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    ===…who are forced to pay union dues and fund political causes they don’t agree with.===

    Willfully ignorant, blissfully unaware, or phony to purposely destroy labor… honestly or not?

    ===I am proud of what we started three years ago.===

    … being, arguably, the least honest current sitting governor in America?

    It’s about messaging, not honesty in the messaging.


  10. - Ole General - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    Every night before I fall asleep, I thank Mitch McConnell for holding out and seating Gorsuch.

    One of the finest legal minds in America and a true champion of freedom.


  11. - Anon - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    Everyone, please see:

    - Perrid - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 10:32 am

    That’s the crux of the legal argument.


  12. - TKMH - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 11:14 am:

    ==Every night before I fall asleep, I thank Mitch McConnell for holding out and seating Gorsuch.

    One of the finest legal minds in America and a true champion of freedom.==

    I’ll have whatever hallucinogenic you’re having.


  13. - JS Mill - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 11:26 am:

    =Every night before I fall asleep, I thank Mitch McConnell for holding out and seating Gorsuch.=

    One of these days it is going to be Chuck Schumer holding out, we will see how you like the tables being turned…I doubt you will be such a huge freedom fighter then.


  14. - Whatever - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 11:28 am:

    Perrid has it right - in the court documents, Janus is arguing that he disagrees with AFSCME’s bargaining positions and it violates his first amendment rights to be forced to associate with them. I believe that, if the Court does decide to overturn its Abood decision, the only way it can protect Janus’ first amendment rights is to hold that the union cannot represent him in any way. Janus (and anyone who wants to get out of paying dues) will have to negotiate his own compensation. He says that is fine with him, but I would bet that yhe vast majority of union members in state employment are aware of how well negotiating your own compensation has worked for merit comp employees since Blago was elected, and will choose to remain dues-paying members of the union. I would also expect that future union contracts will have language providing that non-union members cannot be paid more than a union member doing the same job, and must be laid off before any union member is, which might cause even Janus to rethink his personal beliefs.


  15. - Retired Educator - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    It is disheartening o know ha he plaintiff in a case with such far reaching consequences does not have a clue what he suit is about. This case has the possibility of opening “Pandora’s Box.” As Rich says he is “unclear on he concept.”


  16. - Redraider - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 11:31 am:

    Ole General, still mad that they took your statue down, huh


  17. - Steve Rogers - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 11:34 am:

    I’d be very surprised if SCOTUS doesn’t rule for Janus. Kennedy was pretty forceful in his questioning, indicating support for Janus. With his swing vote, the conservative majority on the Court will rule for Janus. Another 5-4 vote.


  18. - Texas Red - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 11:38 am:

    But, writes POLITICO’s Andrew Hanna, Janus “suggested” that he opposed AFSCME using his fair-share fee to support the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton. What exactly does suggested mean ?


  19. - Sen. Blutarsky - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 11:56 am:

    Fungible: (of goods contracted for without an individual specimen being specified) able to replace or be replaced by another identical item; mutually interchangeable.

    The idea that a union (or any entity for that matter) silos money for specific purposes and that those silos preclude any “interaction” of funds is laughable on its face. If your spouse only spent their paycheck on a shopping spree while you both know you needed that money to pay for your child’s education, I doubt anyone would say oh well it’s ok because you only spent that portion of the money.


  20. - Skeptic - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:00 pm:

    Sen. Blutarksy: Then by that argument, candidates should be able to use their campaign funds for anything they’d like because it’s, you know, fungible.


  21. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:09 pm:

    –Every night before I fall asleep, I thank Mitch McConnell for holding out and seating Gorsuch.–

    So those are the thoughts and prayers we hear so much about. I was wondering who they were praying to.


  22. - Sen. Blutarsky - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    Skeptic,

    They often do use that money for personal business, including eating out, club memberships, and other expenditures they could not otherwise afford. Those examples abound.

    As an aside, It’s also worth pointing out that political donations are a completely voluntary expenditure (excluding some notorious bad actors).


  23. - Eastside - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:25 pm:

    Equally unclear on the concept (from SJR):

    “If the unions lose, won’t they have less political influence, Kennedy asked David Frederick, representing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Illinois affiliate. Yes, Frederick said.

    “Isn’t that the end of this case?” Kennedy replied.”

    Didn’t the union just admit to the swing voting justice that all of their activities are essentially political speech?


  24. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:27 pm:

    Sen Blutarsky, if the child’s education costs $1000 a month, it costs $1000 a month. If your wife spends a lot and you only have $900 left you are short.
    Money is budgeted for specific things. There is already a law covering what specific things fair share fees can be used for. If there is already a law in place why do we need the Supreme Court?


  25. - City Zen - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:28 pm:

    According to the Dept of Labor, AFSCME 31 paid Citizens Action Illinois $13,500 using non-political dollars (ie regular dues). Per their website, Citizens Action is a “progressive political coalition” that “recognizes that winning justice requires political power” and “Members are asked both to financially support the organization and to take action on issues such as contacting key members of Congress or writing lawmakers.”

    How is this not political speech?


  26. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:34 pm:

    That great legal eagle Gorsuch did not ask onr question today. Of course neither did Justice Thomas so much easier to decide if you have no questions and mind made up. I still think Kennedy might t stay with Aboud but whole life thing could be sent back for a full trial or affirmed in part. Anyway don’t count your chickens before they hatch


  27. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:35 pm:

    ===How is this not political speech? ===

    You answered your own question.

    ===ie regular dues===

    Fair share fees are not dues.

    Try to keep up.


  28. - Truthteller - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:37 pm:

    Janus could donate union negotiated wage increases back to the state. He could also donate the difference in what he pays for insurance and what Rauner would like him to pay back to the state.
    Wouldn’t that solve his problem, or is he trying to deny wage and benefit increases to other employees who do want them?


  29. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:37 pm:

    Perrid,so if I dislike Amazon can I sue to keep my portion of taxpayer dollars that will be subsidized to bring them to Illinois? Isn’t that a violation of MY freedom of speech?


  30. - Sen. Blutarsky - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:44 pm:

    Da Big Bad Wolf,

    My point is that money spent in one area means less money available in another. Likewise, additional revenue for one expense means additional spending capacity on other expenses. Meaning that while technically you can silo money, mandated contributions for one area allow an entity to spend more on other areas. It’s in effect a contribution to the whole pot of money, which is then spent on the whole of an entity’s activities.

    That’s putting aside the argument that what a public sector union does in all of its activities is inherently political given its relationship to politicians and government.


  31. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:50 pm:

    “Janus is arguing that he disagrees with AFSCME’s bargaining positions and it violates his first amendment rights”

    Does Janus not want a safer worksite, better working conditions, affordable health insurance, due process, protection for himself and his coworkers from harmful privatization, protection from massive cuts?

    Did Janus not look at Rauner’s contract terms and see how they scapegoat and slash the state workforce? Why is he so selfish that he wants to burn his colleagues, not just in his office but all over America?

    Janus can live in Raunerworld and eat Raunerrhea by himself. Many others are taking up the fight to protect workers from super-rich hypocrites like Rauner, who made lots of money from the public sector he says is wrecking America.


  32. - Mike Cirrincione - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:50 pm:

    I’ll bet failed Illinois Governor Rauner wins.

    However it opens up a huge can of worms.

    My Free Speech rights are being violated by my wireless carrier as they use my money to lobby for Net Neutrality.

    Not even a choice of Fair Share and since they are a monopoly.

    Also don’t like my tax dollars funding the War Department. They buy guns from manufacturers who support the terrirists at the NRA.


  33. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 12:57 pm:

    Still don’t see why this isn’t a case of stare decisis.


  34. - Chicago 20 - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 1:12 pm:

    Federal law prohibits the use of union dues for political use.
    If a union wants to donate money to a political cause it must raise the money through a voluntary political action committee.
    Janus doesn’t understand the case means he is just a shill for Rauner and his cohorts.


  35. - VanillaMan - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 1:14 pm:

    At a time when Illinois needed a governor to calm discord and provide results, it got a governor committed to the opposite.

    Shockingly, Rauner is in DC trumpeting his involvement in a lawsuit with the stated goal to sow more chaos and discord upon Illinois.

    I listened to Janus, interviewed by Reason, and was sadden by how this sincere gentleman was used to unravel his own comfortable world. He is like a drunk walking into a popular bar on New Year’s Eve, wearing a belt filled with explosives and shrapnel, looking for his table of friends.

    What a sweet stooge. So sad.


  36. - dbk - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 1:16 pm:

    Big Bad Wolf, Mike Cirrincione

    This is what two libertarian legal scholars have argued in their amicus brief. They predict a veritable torrent of challenges (”Pandora’s Box”) like those you give as examples.

    Anonymous 12.57: The Cato Institute in its amicus brief argues that stare decisis is insufficient because “constitutional rights” (First Amendment) are at stake, and the justification of 41 years of labor peace achieved by Abood is insufficient to outweigh the constitutional right at issue.


  37. - Chicago 20 - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 1:17 pm:

    Janus better be careful.
    He just might end up owning a nursing home.


  38. - Skeptic - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 1:51 pm:

    “My point is that money spent in one area means less money available in another.” But what you’re saying doesn’t make sense. Fair share employees pay $X. Full union members pay $X + dues. What I hear you saying is that spending the money from the “dues” money on political contributions necessarily decreases the amount in the “X” category. Of course that’s simply not true, as long as the amount spent is less than or equal to the dues collected.

    “They often do use that money for personal business, including eating out, club memberships, and other expenditures they could not otherwise afford.” You might ask Aaron Shock about that.


  39. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 2:14 pm:

    Sen. Blutarsky
    So let’s say there is a month that a union collected dues and fair share fees and did’t have to negotiate too hard, hire lawyers or even settle a few grievances. There is money left over.

    The union still can’t spend the left over money on political ads and political events. It can only spend fair share fees on specific things. Running the business of the union. This is law.


  40. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 2:45 pm:

    Rich, I told ya this guy was a loose cannon lol.


  41. - bear3 - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 4:51 pm:

    No fair share than how can you be entitled to wages and benefits negotiated for you. If you do not want to pay, you should not enjoy the benefits. You privilege and can work in another field based on your convictions!


  42. - City Zen - Monday, Feb 26, 18 @ 5:26 pm:

    ==No fair share than how can you be entitled to wages and benefits negotiated for you.==

    After a union contract is negotiated, what’s to stop a manager from using that contract as the baseline for any non-union employees?


  43. - ed hunt - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:17 am:

    If bargaining or negotiation is free speech it must be protected. So if Abood goes down, there will be many lawsuits about a negotiated contract being an example of protected free speech. The reactionary court might regret its eagerness to kill unions.


  44. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 8:26 am:

    ==what’s to stop a manager from using that contract as the baseline for any non-union employees==

    Nothing. But, your comment completely misses the point being made. The point is, if these people remain unionized (which is a question up in the air) then why would they be entitled to any of the benefits negotiated by the union?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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