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It ain't free speech when you're forced to pay for a union's megaphone

Belleville News Democrat

Thursday, June 28, 2018  |  Editorial  |  By the BND Editorial Board

Labor (55) , Unions, labor (55)
Mark Janus was told that he had to pay union dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 if he wanted to work for Illinois. His job as a state child support collection specialist had great benefits and salary as a result of the union's collective bargaining efforts.

Since 1977 that was the law of the land, no free ride for non-union folks enjoying the fruits of the union's efforts. Across 22 states that was the rule for 5.5 million government workers.

Until Wednesday.

Janus objected to AFSCME spending one-quarter of his roughly $600 a year in union fees on politics, especially when it spent only about 20 percent on representing workers. He agreed with little of their political agenda, so in 2015 he sued to stop from being forced to pay money used to push their political agenda.

“The practice infringed on the constitutional rights of public sector workers who were asked to give up their First Amendment rights as a condition of employment," said Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who backed the suit. "This decision fairly reinstates those rights.”

More than a win for worker free speech rights, Illinois taxpayers won when the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday sided 5-4 with Janus.

AFSCME state workers average $66,000 a year in salary. Their benefits boost the cost to taxpayers to nearly $110,000 per worker.

Jane Average worker without benefit of a union state job averages $32,500.

That political activism by the state employee union benefits the campaign war chests of state leaders. Those same state leaders then bargain the state union contracts.

No wonder Illinois state workers are the highest paid in the nation, and we have a state so blue that power can be concentrated for more than three decades in the hands of one Chicago Democrat.

Some union leaders expect the ripple effect to kill the labor movement. That's doubtful.

But we can certainly hope Mark Janus' stand creates the ripple effect that weakens the corrupt liaison between state worker unions and state leaders.