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Local Top Democrat: Janus Ruling Puts Unions In Danger Of 'Mass Extinction'

Andrew Harnik
Plaintiff Mark Janus, left, accompanied by Gov. Bruce Rauner, right, speaks outside the Supreme Court after the court rules in a setback for organized labor that states can't force government workers to pay union fees, June 27, 2018, in D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a blow to organized labor Wednesday, ruling that requiring non-union government employees to pay dues infringes on their First Amendment rights.

McLean County Democratic Party Chairman Erik Rankin told GLT the ruling is a “victory for authoritarianism in the workplace.”

“Fair share dues are the lifeblood of unions and allow public sector unions to raise the resources and functions of collective bargaining that they need in order to be successful,” Rankin said.

Rankin says collective bargaining agreements are one of the last democratic mechanisms left in today’s workplace. Without them, employees are left with unstable work environments.

“I think that, at the end of the day, without those dues, which is what Janus basically will end up eliminating, at least in the way that we currently have seen them, public sector unions are in danger of mass extinction,” Rankin said.

McLean County is home to an estimated 8,000 unionized workers.

The ruling falls in favor of Gov. Bruce Rauner, a strong opponent of organized labor.

The Janus case branches from a March 2015 executive order from then newly elected Rauner suspending fair share fees from being deducted from paychecks for union dues. That same day, Rauner filed a federal lawsuit calling these fees unconstitutional. That then turned into the Janus case when Rauner was tossed that May. Mark Janus petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2017. The court agreed to take up the case in September 2017 after Justice Neil Gorsuch replaced the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion stating, “Under Illinois law, public employees are forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities. We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of non members by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”

The Supreme Court issued the 5-4 Janus decision on the last day of its term.

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