New lawsuit headed to Supreme Court
By CARL GREEN
Washington– Mark Janus must not know what to do if he’s not in court, suing a union.
Now he is again trying to get fair-share dues from before the infamous 2018 Supreme Court decision that bears his name returned to him, threatening the Labor Movement with having to return potentially $120 million in legitimate representation fees.
Janus and his backers with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and Liberty Justice Center on March 9 filed an appeal of the Seventh Circuit federal court ruling last year that he had no claim to union fees he paid before the Supreme Court decision.
Janus expects to receive only about $3,000 he paid to AFSCME Council 31 between 2015 and the infamous Janus v. AFSCME ruling that imposed “right-to-work” conditions on public-sector workers and their unions, but such a decision could affect more than 30 cases the right-wing lawyers have filed against unions since the Janus decision, totaling more than $120 million, according to the legal groups.
ANOTHER ATTACK ON WORKERS
AFSCME is calling the case out for what it is.
“This prolonged litigation is nothing but another political attack on working people, and on Janus’s part, a greedy grab for more,” Executive Director Roberta Lynch said, noting that Janus never hesitated to accept the union-negotiated benefits of his federal job.
“Mark Janus received wage increases, health insurance coverage, vacation time and other benefits that AFSCME negotiated during his tenure in state government,” Lynch said. “He never once failed to accept such improvements in his working conditions nor did he ever object to paying the related fees – until he became the plaintiff in (former Illinois billionaire governor) Bruce Rauner’s case against AFSCME.
“Courts have repeatedly ruled in this and similar cases that in setting fees for representation provided to non-members, the unions involved acted in good faith based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in place since 1977 that was repeatedly affirmed in the ensuing decades.”
FACTS AND MERITS
The Seventh Circuit federal district court said in its opinion, “Until (the Janus decision) said otherwise, AFSCME had a legal right to receive and spend fair-share fees collected from non-members as long as it complied with state law. It did not demonstrate bad faith when it followed these rules.”
Judith Rivlin, general counsel for AFSCME, said that principle has been supported in courts consistently.
“Working people have won every single case thrown at them by these special interest groups, and if judges continue to weigh these cases on the facts and merits, the corporate interests behind them will continue to fail in their efforts to further rig the system in their favor.”
That may be a big “if,” considering how the Supreme Court majority members were chosen by Republican presidents for their opposition to unions.
Janus was a child support specialist in Illinois until after the 5-4 Supreme Court decision, when he resigned to become a “senior fellow” of the right-wing Illinois Policy Institute in July 2018.
Now he and his backers are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will take up his latest request.