US Supreme Court to Take on Union Fees Case Janus v AFSCME

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IL is one of about two dozen states that requires its workers to pay fair share fees to public employee unions even if they are not union members.

But David Frederick, a Washington lawyer representing Janus's union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said union dues are justified by the expense of contract negotiations. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) represents Janus and the other 35,000 state employees in IL.

In a published statement, AFSCME Council 31, which represents many IL government workers, said the case is the result of "a blatantly political and well-funded scheme" by "billionaire CEOs, corporate interests and politicians like ..."

Unions charge the fees to prevent workers from becoming "free riders" in gaining the benefits of representation without paying for them.

"The union voice is not my voice".

The fear is that if the high court, which now has a conservative majority, overturns that provision, public sector unions could see a rapid dwindling of income through dues and fees, since payments essentially would no longer be required.

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Why is this being called "Friedrichs 2.0"?

The nation's four largest public-sector unions - the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - sharply criticized the case, calling it "a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people". About two-dozen states now mandate state employees pay union dues.

After the justices deadlocked 4-4 in a similar case past year, the high court will consider a free-speech challenge from workers who object to paying money to unions they don't support.

Another major case was added to the Court's docket on Thursday and most likely will be heard in 2018.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed September 28 to take two cases involving allegedly improper searches by police, one of a rental auto and another to get the license plate number on a stolen a motorcycle. This in turn leads to a dilemma: If workers don't have to join or otherwise support the union, non-members essentially free-ride off the union's efforts.

Janus and others, though, argue that the kind of issues public employee unions negotiate - things like state employee pay, pensions, or when teachers can be fired - are inherently political. The decision opened the door for an appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Conservatives will look for a boost from the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, in a year that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said will be momentous.

What arguments do unions and their supporters make? They may not like it, but it's hard to argue that this wouldn't be a good thing. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, stepped forward to defend the state law.

Spakovsky said, "If the Supreme Court recognizes political gerrymandering as a violation of the Constitution, I think it will cause chaos throughout the country".

"There's no way for workers to actually ensure that money isn't going to prohibited political activities", he said. The court has a 5-4 conservative majority.

Unions are preparing for a loss in court.

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