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“I work with Mark Janus. Here’s how he benefits from a strong union”

Monday, May 14, 2018

* Labor Notes has an interesting op-ed by a co-worker of Mark Janus, who is the plaintiff in the US Supreme Court case about the constitutionality of mandatory fair share fees

1. Without our union, Mr. Janus’s job would probably have been outsourced by now. A drastic provision in the state’s “last, best, and final offer” in 2016 would have given Governor Rauner the right to outsource and privatize state employees’ jobs without accountability. Our union is all that’s preventing critical public services from being privatized. […]

2. Mr. Janus has received $17,000 in union-negotiated raises. […]

3. The public—including the parents and kids Mr. Janus serves—has access to resources like childcare that our union has fought to defend. […]

4. Our union blocked the employer from doubling the cost of Mr. Janus’s health benefits. […]

5. We make sure Mr. Janus’s office is warm in the winter and cool in the summer… In the building where Mr. Janus and I work, the heating and cooling system is extremely old. Twice a year they bring in a computer from 1982 to switch from heat to air conditioning for the summer, and vice versa for the winter. So when the weather fluctuates, we work to get portable heating or cooling units deployed where they’re needed.

Go read the whole thing and tell us what you think.

* Related…

* ADDED: Meet the new head of Chicago labor: Ramirez himself frames it in sharper terms: “He’s as left as they come. He’s for all labor, not just a building trades guy.”

* Will the court break public-sector unions? Those for, against unions anxiously await U.S. Supreme Court ruling on if mandatory dues violate rights

* Washington’s public unions fight to retain influence in face of adverse court ruling

* Janus decision could bring change to California politics

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Demoralized - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    I’ve yet to hear Janus complain about the benefits he’s received as a result of his membership in the union.

    He knew the requirements of the job when he took it. He took it anyway. And now complains about the requirements he knew about. He had a choice. He could have refused to take the position if he is that opposed to unions. Don’t for a minute believe that Janus has been forced to do anything. He hasn’t. He made a choice.

  2. - jim - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:31 am:

    I think it’s a little late to try to persuade Mr.
    Janus of the wrongness of his position. Just speculating, of course.

  3. - Perrid - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:32 am:

    Saw the article the other day, and while I agree with all of the points, I generally like, believe in and support unions, it kind of doesn’t matter how much the guy benefits. He says he doesn’t want those benefits, that the union does not represent his desires. Which I say is fair enough, and that his pay should immediately be halved (he makes $71,000 a year just as an aside. There are lots of people who would love to see state workers working for $35,500 a year) and he has to work on holidays and have less sick and vacation time. Sounds like a plan.

  4. - Retired Educator - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    Janus is a guy who got played by Rauner. No one forced him to take the job. No one forced him to continue the job. He knew going in it was a union job. I have zero respect for his opinion. Hopefully in June his 15 minutes will be up.

  5. - Nick Name - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:37 am:

    Just what does Mark Janus do with his union-scale pay? Because if it bothers him that much, he should be donating about half his salary.

  6. - Nolan - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:40 am:

    Janus’ colleague actually makes the points that his case is based on. He objects to his money being used to advance an agenda his does not agree with. Pension and healthcare benefits and raises for state workers is certainly part of that agenda that he believes is bankrupting the state.

  7. - Saluki - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:40 am:

    The writing in on the wall and AFSCME is King Belshazzar.

  8. - City Zen - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:44 am:

    “Our agency would be at particular risk, because Illinois already has a longstanding contract with a scandal-ridden, for-profit corporation called Maximus…”

    Is this the same Maximus that AFSCME’s old buddy Blagojevich was accused of pay-to-play?

  9. - Gruntled University Employee - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:44 am:

    I recently heard an interview with Eric Segall, Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law. He had an interesting take on Justice Gorsuch and the Janus case. Professor Segall thinks there is a chance that Gorusch, wanting to hijack the mantle of “swing voter” from Justice Kennedy and cement his independence on the court, may side with AFSCME on this one. For what it’s worth Professor Segall (a Supreme Court Scholar) put the chances of this happening at 50/50.

  10. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:45 am:

    Spot on. Janus wasn’t so oppressed that he refused a union job and all its benefits. He shouldn’t have had standing before SCOTUS to begin with, because his acceptance of the pay and benefits for years says he suffered no harm that warrants a remedy from the nation’s highest court.

    Janus could very well bring about Rauner’s “economic racism.” Public sector unions would have second class status, with RtW in non-RtW states. Public sector unions would have to give the benefits of unionization away for free while private sector unions would still be able to collect fees. The IPI admitted AFSCME brings state workers benefits that they could get for free by being fair share fee payers (and now potentially non-payers). It’s like economic Jim Crow or worse, because there’s no pretense of equality.

    Finally, Janus would rather scald his colleagues and blame them for the state’s fiscal problems rather than factoring in that Rauner and other super-rich had very low state income taxes for decades, which contributed to problems. That’s a sell-out.

  11. - Name Withheld - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:46 am:

    I’m fairly sure comparing AFSCME to a Babylonian tyrant king who’s doom is foretold by a hebrew prophet who’s countrymen were driven into exile by the conquest of their homeland by said Babylonian tyrant could be construed as hyperbolic. Could you, perhaps, elaborate on your analogy with more direct one-to-one comparisons?

  12. - City Zen - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:46 am:

    ==He knew going in it was a union job.==

    Janus is on the union payroll? I thought he worked for the state?

  13. - Nick Name - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:50 am:

    ===He objects to his money being used to advance an agenda his does not agree with.===

    Compensation for work performed is an “agenda”?

  14. - ste_with a v_en - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:54 am:

    “Twice a year they bring in a computer from 1982 to switch from heat to air conditioning for the summer, and vice versa for the winter.”

    Is this common? They havne’t been able to update this?

  15. - Me Again - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    All Maximus functions were supposed to be taken over by IES after the IES Project “Phase 2” implementation on 10/14/2017.

    Hey DoIT - Why is Maximus still around?

  16. - wordslinger - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    Meh, there’s always a useful something-something who’s willing to be a front man to pull up the ladder.

  17. - Perrid - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:06 pm:

    Guys, the argument that he knew it was a union job when it took it is a complete red herring, a logical fallacy. If fair share fees violate his rights it doesn’t matter what he knew or when he knew it.

  18. - Generic Drone - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    Hopefully the SCOTUS will rule in labors favor.

  19. - Ron - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    When does the SCOTUS decide the case?

  20. - Nick Name - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:15 pm:

    ===When does the SCOTUS decide the case?===

    A decision is expected in June.

  21. - Retired Educator - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:15 pm:

    The fact that he has benefited from the union negotiations, while complaining about the few dollars he has to pay, says a lot about him. It doesn’t make him right, it makes him a whiner.

  22. - MSIX - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:17 pm:

    =“Twice a year they bring in a computer from 1982 to switch from heat to air conditioning for the summer, and vice versa for the winter.”

    Is this common? They havne’t been able to update this? =

    Very common. We have a lab instrument with software that will only run on Windows 98. So we still have the old, old PC attached to it. We can afford a new PC, but we can’t afford the new lab instrument. As long as it still works, we maintain the setup. This is only going to get worse as Windows 7 phases out.

  23. - Team America - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    “Twice a year they bring in a computer from 1982 to switch from heat to air conditioning for the summer, and vice versa for the winter.”

    I have an old Apple ][ computer that I would be happy to donate so they don’t have to bring in a loaner…

  24. - Nick Name - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:29 pm:

    ===Guys, the argument that he knew it was a union job when it took it is a complete red herring, a logical fallacy. If fair share fees violate his rights it doesn’t matter what he knew or when he knew it.===

    I read once that he was one of the PSA1s certified in AFSCME in 2010, at which point his pay would have almost doubled.

    If he started in a non-BU position and after that it became a BU position, again, if he hated it so much, did he donate his union-scale pay? Also, whether to join a BU was voted on by employees — and the pro-BU votes won by a huge margin. That’s how democracy works.

    Janus opposed being certified in a bargaining unit. Fine. But it was put to a vote and his side lost. But no one forced him to stay in that job. He could have put in for a transfer or just quit and gone to work in the private sector. But no, he stayed put, taking his union-scale pay and benefits, until someone decided he was dumb enough to be a patsy for this lawsuit.

    If being on the losing side of a vote violates one’s free-speech rights, then having to put up with President Trump violates the free speech rights of everyone who voted against him, especially those of us in blue states.

    Also, if having to pay fair share fees violates free speech rights, then I have news for Janus: his free speech rights will be violated no matter where he works. Every business or employer, public sector or private sector, will have policies and objectives that Mark Janus will disagree with. That’s life. Did having to work twelve years under Democratic governors violate the free speech rights of Republicans in the executive branch of Illinois government? Does having to work under Rauner violate the free speech rights of Democratic employees?

    These are the implications — the unintended consequences — of Mark Janus’ claim that having to pay fair share fees violate his free speech rights. And if I’ve thought of this, I’m sure it’s occurred to the Justices on SCOTUS.

    Careful what you ask for, Mark J and your Koch Bros. backers. You might get it.

  25. - City Zen - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:32 pm:

    ==Twice a year they bring in a computer from 1982==

    You can recognize it by the Quarterflash sticker on the side and its use of an Intellivision controller in place of a mouse.

  26. - Louis G. Atsaves - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:35 pm:

    I’m sure Janus has been feeling the love for years now from his fellow employees. This article didn’t have to rub it in. Nor all the derogatory comments here in this thread about his motives.

    Many states have ‘Right to Work’ laws. Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’ hasn’t reared its ugly head in those states. The author of that Labor Notes piece is certainly no Upton Sinclair.

  27. - DuPage Bard - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:39 pm:

    AFSCME your time is now. Once Janus wins how do you respond? Do you have the muscle to carry folks through to November and a new Governor? If you do what you did to Quinn you are done. What’s it going to be?

  28. - Perrid - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:41 pm:

    @Nick Name, the vote is immaterial. No group can take away its members constitutional rights. And those rights are not conditional, so you can’t say “Leave or lose your rights.” You want to make an argument saying that money isn’t speech that would be a valid argument - one SCOTUS has repeatedly rejected, but at least logically sound- but you can’t argue he waived his rights by choosing to accept a job offer.

  29. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 12:50 pm:

    Perrid, that is just too cute. These are two different things. An employer can fire someone who says something that embarrasses them, for example. But that employee will not be thrown in jail. That employee still has the right to say embarrassing things as a citizen. And employers have the right to not continue their relationship with the employee.

  30. - Perrid - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:01 pm:

    Da Big Bad Wolf, I don’t understand what your point is? Mine was that it doesn’t matter if Janus knew he was accepting a union job, if money is free speech he needs to be able to not spend that money on speech he doesn’t want to spend it on. And we also are not talking about any speech that would impact his job; when people get fired for something there at least has to be a rational about how and why it violates guidelines or policy or adversely impacts that company. You can’t fire someone for not giving money to a entity. And firing someone would not actually violate their free speech, where taking money away from someone to spend it on speech they don’t agree with would. I’d love for your arguments to make sense, weakening unions generally only helps the rich folks that need help the least and it both angers and scares me, but the argument just isn’t there.

  31. - Jocko - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:06 pm:

    “I shouldn’t be forced to pay money to a union if I don’t think it does a good job representing my interests.” Mark Janus (1/5/16)

    So…rather than assume a role in the union hierarchy (so “they” could do a better job representing “his” interests)…Mark wants to ‘opt out’ but receive the same salary, benefits, and workplace safeguards.

  32. - Elliott Ness - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:07 pm:

    The decision will be that there is freedom in America to choose and unions will need to redouble efforts to prove the value of the dues,

  33. - City Zen - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:08 pm:

    ==AFSCME your time is now. Once Janus wins how do you respond?==

    They will probably merge with SEIU.

  34. - Wallinger Dickus - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:13 pm:

    Some day Toto will pull back the curtain and you’ll see who was pulling Mark’s levers.

    You might even bet on it.

  35. - Texas Red - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:13 pm:

    Labornotes can highlight the so-called benefits Janus enjoyed; however that is not germane to
    the SCOTUS. The issue comes down to compelled dues/speech.

  36. - Nora - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:19 pm:

    Yes, you can cut workers pay and slash their benefits. But that would result in a msss exit. A lot of these jobs require a college degree or in some cases graduate degrees. Do you really think we will stay around for 35k and higher benefits? No, and that will result in ppl not receiving aid and services they are entitled too by our federal government. Which means the state will get slammed with fines and or lose key grant money that are provisions in providing such services.
    I am a State union worker and I actually don’t fully support the union. I think seniority has to go because ppl are put in positions where they know nothing about and by the time they learn their jobs they retire. I also don’t like that unions back politicians or causes I do t believe in. But unions are needed to a rather large scale degree still. I just think both sides are in wrong.

  37. - Anonymous - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:28 pm:

    Agreed Wallinger Dickus. That’s almost always the case.

  38. - SuburbanRepublican - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:31 pm:

    Wow, pretty lopsided views on this thread. I completely agree with Elliott Ness @ 1:07pm, if Janus wins this case it will be up to AFSCME to step up and convince current and future employees that their dues are a worthwhile investment. Mr. Janus seems like a person that can more than handle himself and negotiate for himself.

  39. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:32 pm:

    ===Yes, you can cut workers pay and slash their benefits. But that would result in a msss exit.===

    There is a school of thought that would have governmental employees’ salaries set at the same rate as would achieve the same turnover rate as the private sector for comparable positions. Typically, the public sector rate would be lower because public employees value their pensions, healthcare and days off as compensation. But there is a floor beneath where pay cuts would offset whatever external benefits there are to public employment and public employment would churn to an unacceptable degree, led by the best and brightest.

  40. - Skeptic - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:58 pm:

    “I have an old Apple ][ computer that I would be happy to donate so they don’t have to bring in a loaner…” It would have to go through the procurement process /snark

  41. - RNUG - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    Janus made the free speech argument,ie, his money, in the form of dues or fair share, is going to political speech because just bargaining with goverment is political speech.

    In theory, there is a “Chinese Wall” between the bargaining group and the lobbying (political) group if that, in fact, exists then none of Janus’ money was spent on political speech.

    The way I see it, there are two basic questions / issues at stake.

    1) Was any of the fair share money used by the lobbying group? That should be a matter of fact that can be cleared up. It may require an audit of the union books, something the union would strongly resist or refuse unless court ordered. But it should be possible to get a yes / no answer.

    And it may be there was some indirect aid in the form of shared office resources, which may have to be addressed, but I don’t see indirect as sufficient grounds to through it totally out.

    2) The stickier issue that Janus argued was that ALL union spending, even if just on negotiating wages and benefits, is political speech because one party, the employer, was a governmental entity. This is the real question that the court has to answer: where and when is government just another employer having normal business negoiations and when is it a govermental organization being influenced by political speech?

    Unless the court finds a way to kick Janus back to a lower court for fact finding, it is that second question that will decide the case.I fully expect it will be a 5/4 decision … but I don’t know which way.

  42. - Soapbox Derby - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 2:12 pm:

    Happy to hear that the Union takes credit for making sure the building is heated and cooled properly. No doubt thousands of state workers died from heat stroke, or froze, before the benevolent union showed up to save the day.

  43. - just wondering - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 2:12 pm:

    everyone saying that he knew that it was a union job when he took it. Is that how you feel about the Trib employees they knew those jobs were non union when they took them so they should be barred from organizing

  44. - Anonymous - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 2:23 pm:

    - Perrid - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 11:32 am:

    Many private sector employers have better vacation packages then the State. Many others are equal to the State.

    10 thru 5 years

    Then the usual move up over the years to 15,17,20,22,25.

    This is not any better then the private sector and Rauner wanted to take some away.

  45. - DuPage Bard - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 3:11 pm:

    So when does the bill get filed that if you opt out of fair share you no longer receive the benefits of the fair share/union employees? The union doesn’t have to protect you in salary or health benefits. Grievances will be handled on your own and workplace safety is up to you. Worker protections such as sick leave, lunch breaks, break time, vacations and future pension are all on your own?

  46. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 3:51 pm:

    If Janus wins, he’ll be so thrilled when he’s immediately fired without any union protection.

    He’s going to so love that freedom to work.

  47. - HangingOn - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 3:56 pm:

    ==died from heat stroke, or froze, before the benevolent union showed up==

    I’m guessing this was snark, but a state building I was a temp in was so badly regulated in temperature that while I was shivering at my desk up front, one of the ladies in the offices in the back passed out and had to be rushed to the hospital from the heat. It was 56 degrees at my desk, 104 at hers we found out. Another office I worked in had a hose running out the window and during the winter to get heat you had to drain the water pipes about 3 times a week or it would get an airlock. Got down in the 40s in that office one time. Mr Janus should consider himself lucky they cared.

  48. - Ron - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 5:33 pm:

    Millions upon millions of Americans work without union “protection” and are very happy and well compensated.

  49. - Anonymous - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 5:39 pm:

    Ron - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 5:33 pm:

    I question your saying they are happy

  50. - Sue - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 6:10 pm:

    Gruntled- LOL. Swing voter Kennedy voted to ban union fees last time. Why would his protege vote any other way then Kennedy on this case

  51. - Curmudgeon - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 7:48 pm:

    I used to work in that same building and I can testify that the heating/cooling system left much to be desired. At one point, I worked in a room in which the winter temperature dropped as low as the mid 50s and the summer temperature got up to the upper 80s. My roommate & I wore coats & gloves at our desks in the winter — the Blago admin forbid personal heaters.

  52. - Sally - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 8:10 pm:

    If the Union wants to expel or not represent workers, I’ll negotiate for a manager position with higher pay. I know the bad workers in my office and I’ll leverage this in negotiations. The union would go down a very very slippery slope if they make rash judgments. A lot of these “full pledge” union workers are bad employees who receive more money and throw around their seniority.

  53. - Jocko - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 8:41 pm:

    ==I’ll negotiate for a manager position with higher pay.==

    Let us know how that works out for you. BTW - The going rate for thirty pieces of silver is $600

  54. - Steve - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 8:48 pm:

    Millions upon millions of Americans work without union “protection” and are very happy and well compensated.- I dare you to come up with one person who wouldn’t wish for better pay, retirement, health care etc.

  55. - Nick - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 9:03 pm:

    Sally, that’s funny
    Good luck with that.

  56. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 9:26 pm:

    Curmudgeon and others, what building are we talking about?

  57. - RNUG - Monday, May 14, 18 @ 9:51 pm:

    -AA-, one building in Chicago the State no longer leases had more of an electical load from space heater’s than all the lighting and mainframes. Know that for a fact because the building was surveyed and the heaters located after the Chicago River was holed and power was limited to the backup generators.

    Heck, the building I worked in had some regulation issues in the corner where my office was. The building engineer and I had an understanding; he didn’t complain about my space heater and I didn’t complain about lack of heat. Even with the heater, I kept a couple cardigan sweaters for chilly days … but I often had to track a sweater down when I wanted one because the gals had a habit of borrowing them when they got cold … so I often did without one.

  58. - Rabid - Tuesday, May 15, 18 @ 4:14 am:

    Mark would agree with the union if they gave to Rauner

  59. - HangingOn - Tuesday, May 15, 18 @ 6:43 am:

    ==what building are we talking about? ==

    Mine was the Peoria Regional. Been out of there a few years so I don’t know if it has improved or not. We’re in rental property now.

  60. - Rabid - Tuesday, May 15, 18 @ 8:55 am:

    Creature comforts is an union grievance

  61. - Steward As Well - Tuesday, May 15, 18 @ 9:18 am:

    DuPage Bard 3:11pm…. Afscme will have to continue representing those that decide to pay nothing or risk losing exclusivity rights they have on all job titles under their “umbrella.”

  62. - MAGA - Wednesday, May 23, 18 @ 4:29 pm:

    AFSCME will have to earn my membership. They are a radical alt left facist organization. They are against workers, against family, against human rights, and the bill of rights, and are in bed with the most vile corrupt Chicago politicians and have no interest in doing anything but enriching themselves. I would venture a guess that more than 50% of the membership are real Americans who despise AFSCME. It is a moral outrage that we are forced to support their corruption. We are all excited about the decision. We are competent and require licensing to perform our duties and we could get an instant raise if we went private sector.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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