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State to stop collecting some union fees after Supreme Court decision

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Thursday, June 28, 2018  |  Article  |   By Greg Bishop

Candidates--Statewide (12) , Labor (55) , Right to work , Unions, labor (55)
Illinois state employees who aren’t union members will soon see bigger paychecks after a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Wednesday in favor of Illinois state employee Mark Janus, who challenged union "fair share" fees that government workers were forced to pay as a condition of keeping their job. Janus said the win was a victory for the First Amendment.

Defendants in the case, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 31 union, said the majority opinion goes against working people.

“We’re making certain that every union member knows the real intent of this case is to defund unions, then drive down wages and benefits of public service workers,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “We're not going to let that happen.”

The union has endorsed gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, who said the ruling will mean lower wages.

Illinois Central Management Services told employees Wednesday that their benefits “do not depend on union membership or collective bargaining,” and non-union members will no longer be paying an average $737 a year to the union. Full dues paying members pay an average $911 a year.

“Effective immediately, the state will stop deducting ‘fair share’ fees from the paychecks of state employees who are not union members,” CMS Acting Director Tim McDevitt said in an email to employees Wednesday. “An employee’s decision to join or withdraw from the union will not impact his or her job protections with the State.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision does not alleviate unions of their obligations to fairly represent all bargaining unit employees in collective bargaining, whether they are members of the union or not,” McDevitt said.

Janus’ attorney Jacob Huebert from the Liberty Justice Center said that’s why the union should work to reverse a law it lobbied to implement years ago.

“Unions lobbied for laws that require them to represent everyone whether everyone wants the representation or not,” Huebert said. “If the unions would like to change those laws so they only represent dues-paying members, we’d welcome that move.”

It’s not just state employees that will no longer be forced to join a union, it’s also other public employees like teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Pritzker said the ruling will make them less safe.

“When you lower the power of workers to sit at the bargaining table and to get a fair wage and the kind of workplace safety they deserve, you’re hurting working families,” Pritzker said.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who helped spur on the landmark case, said that’s not true.

“[Barring forced dues] is already the policy of our federal government and it’s already the policy in 28 states and those states function extremely well,” Rauner said. “These are false claims by the insiders that just want to maintain the status quo.”

Unions contend workers’ rights will be diminished by of the high court decision.

The National Right to Work Foundation was central to the case, also representing Janus. Mark Mix, the foundation's president, said workers’ rights aren’t going anywhere.

“These are employees that are covered by all kinds of civil service laws and other laws,” Mix said.

Mix said the outcome means public employee unions’ 40-year run of forcing wages away from employees ends and unions will now have to make a stronger case to prospective members.

“So what [unions] are going to have to do is go out and convince Illinois employees and government employees across the country that their services are worth something,” he said.