Chicago, IL (March 27, 2019) – Attorneys for Mark Janus, plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME, have asked a federal appeals court to order a refund union fees he was forced to pay while he worked for Illinois state government.
Janus worked for Illinois state government as a child support specialist from 2007 to 2018. Although he was not a union member, Janus was forced to pay thousands of dollars in “agency fees” to AFSCME, the government union at his workplace. With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center, Janus challenged the practice of mandatory union fees in federal court, and won.
On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government workers cannot be required to pay union fees as a condition of working in public service, finding that mandatory union “agency fees” are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the District Court to determine, among other things, whether Janus is entitled to the approximately $3,000 in fees he was forced to pay since March 23, 2013.
“The Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to take union fees from public employees without their consent,” said Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney at Liberty Justice Center. “Mark, and other public employees like him, were harmed when unions unconstitutionally took their money. They are entitled to have that money returned.”
In addition to striking down the practice of mandatory union fees, the Court ruled that the First Amendment is violated when any union dues or fees are taken from public employees without their affirmative consent and knowing waiver of their First Amendment right not to financially support a labor union.
“As this case shows, even after a clear ruling by the Supreme Court that forced union dues violate the First Amendment, union bosses continue to use every trick in the book to keep the funds they seized in violation of the rights of the very workers they claim to represent,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It has been clear ever since the 2012 Knox v. SEIU decision that the Supreme Court was poised to rule that mandatory union payments violate the constitutional rights of public employees like Mark Janus, and it would be a massive injustice to deny the victims of that scheme the refunds to which the Supreme Court’s ruling makes it clear they are entitled.”
Janus’s appeal comes after a district court judge ruled earlier this month that union officials are not required to refund forced fees seized from nonmember workers before the Janus decision.