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Week in Review: Can Unions Really Do That?

March 3, 2018

March 3, 2018

Mark Janus is a child support specialist for the State of Illinois, but to keep his government job he is forced to pay union fees that go to support policies he does not believe in. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Janus v. AFSCME about whether that practice is constitutional.

“Every month, part of my paycheck goes to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,” Janus wrote in USA Today. “This is because long before I worked in this role, AFSCME was selected to represent the majority of state government employees in Illinois. When I was hired, no one asked me whether I wanted union representation. I only found out when the money started coming out of my paycheck.

“The union says it is advocating for me, but here is how I see it: At a time when Illinois is drowning in red ink and does not have the money to deliver core services, such as caring for the poor and disadvantaged, the union is wrangling taxpayers for higher wages and pension benefits for state workers — benefits that Illinoisans cannot afford. The union’s fight is not my fight.”


Jonathan Riches, the Goldwater Institute’s Director of National Litigation, explains in a new video that unions use money obtained from people like Janus to expand government through collective bargaining — a process over which those individuals have no say or control. That is considered compelled speech, Riches explains, and is a violation of the Constitution.

“Under the First Amendment, the state cannot compulsorily take money out of a state employee’s paycheck and give it to a government union for political activities,” Riches says. “If the Court agrees that collective bargaining is by its nature political, unions can no longer forcibly extract money from people who don’t agree with their activities.”

In December, the Goldwater Institute joined with organizations in California, Massachusetts, and elsewhere, to file an amicus brief in the Janus case.

Liberty in the News

  • “The conservative Goldwater Institute proves why it’s so important to stick to your principles and argue based on evidence,” writes columnist Elvia Diaz in The Arizona Republic. “The group has become a powerhouse not only in Arizona politics but across the nation, in part, because they push their ideas through thoughtful and serious analysis as well as scientific studies.”
  • It’s as American as apple pie to wear a T-shirt expressing your political opinion on Election Day. But in some states, you would be breaking the law if you wear a political t-shirt at your polling place. The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up the issue in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. Timothy Sandefur, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldawater Institute, explains in a new video.
  • “We live in a system where administrative agencies exercise extraordinary power,” the Goldwater Institute’s Jonathan Riches writes in a new article. “Under existing law, administrative agencies are free to fine people, deny them licenses, and even recommend criminal penalties for alleged violations of agency rules and regulations.  These rules and regulations are not made by elected lawmakers, but by the agency itself.” Read more on the Goldwater Institute’s In Defense of Liberty blog.



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