Ohio policy group joins federal legal fight against forced union dues

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Posted: Aug 03, 2017 1:08 PM

Illinois workers whose fight against being forced to pay dues to a union they don’t want to join have an ally in an Ohio policy group.

The Buckeye Institute last month filed what’s called an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of state of Illinois employee Mark Janus, who filed a federal lawsuit claiming his free speech rights were being violated by being forced to pay dues to a public employee union that he has no interest in being a part of.

“Forcing employees to pay for speech with which they disagree is a violation of their First Amendment rights,” Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute, said in a news release announcing the filing. “Neither Mr. Janus, nor anyone else, should ever be forced to pay fees to a union just to keep their jobs. Such compulsion is fundamentally unjust and unconstitutional.”

National Right To Work Foundation represents the plaintiffs. Their case was struck down by the Illinois  7th Circuit Court of Appeals in March. They filed a petition in July asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Foundation President Mark Mix said this is about compelled speech vs. free speech.

Mix said what’s happened is there’s “a private institution in between taxpayers and elected officials and [the union] is able to speak for government employees that, heretofore, never asked for, never wanted, and in fact stand back and say, ‘I don’t want you to speak for me,’ as [plaintiffs] have said in this case,” Mix said.

Janus is a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and, because of Illinois law, is forced to pay fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a government union, to keep his job.

“I went into this line of work because I care about kids. But just because I care about kids doesn’t mean I also want to support a government union,” Janus told the Chicago Tribune. “Unfortunately, I have no choice. To keep my job at the state, I have to pay monthly fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, a public employee union that claims to ‘represent’ me…
“The union voice is not my voice. The union’s fight is not my fight. But a piece of my paycheck every week still goes to the union. I am not anti-union. Unions have their place. And some people like them. But unions aren’t a fit for everyone. And I shouldn’t be forced to pay money to a union if I don’t think it does a good job representing my interests.”