What Janus v. AFSCME could mean in Illinois - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

What Janus v. AFSCME could mean in Illinois

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WSIL -- Unions across the country are bracing for an adverse decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus vs. AFSCME Council 31, which could take away their long-standing ability to collect fair share fees from non-members. 

While those fees cannot be used for lobbying or political activities, they are used to cover the cost of collective bargaining and enforcing contracts.

The case was started here in Illinois by Governor Bruce Rauner in 2015 and claims that everything a union does is inherently political, therefore it violates non-members first amendment rights to force them pay the fees.

Unions and their supporters argue that claim is false.

They say that because they’re required to represent all public employees whether members or not, those fees are used to ensure fairness and prevent free riding by non members.

A decision in the case could have far reaching consequences politically. 

“The unions have long been the backbone of funding and people support for the Democratic party,” said John Jackson, professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute says if the court rules against unions it will have a big impact on their lobbying ability and political clout, because funds that typically go toward political activities will instead be directed to operational expenses.

“It will be a further blow to the power of unions in this country and thus directly be another blow to the Democratic party’s ability to be competitive on spending,” Jackson said.

Since 2000 government unions in Illinois have spent more than $50 million on political contributions.

There is no set date for the decision, but experts say it’s likely the conservative leaning court will rule against the unions.

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