Mark Janus, the Illinois state employee whose case challenging compulsory union dues led to a landmark victory at the Supreme Court last year, is continuing his lawsuit, this time to recover the union dues that were seized from him.
Attorneys with the National Right to Work (NRTW) Legal Defense Foundation have filed the final brief with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Janus v. AFSCME.
On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that forcing government workers to fund labor unions is a violation of the First Amendment. The court found union fees taken from non-members without their affirmative and knowing consent infringes upon their constitutional rights.
Janus, who was an Illinois child support specialist, is now asking the Court of Appeals to rule that he is entitled to refunds of about $3,000 in fees seized from him since March 23, 2013.
“A ruling in his favor could establish a precedent that would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of workers to recover forced union fees found unconstitutional in the Janus decision,” said NRTW Legal Defense Foundation in a press statement announcing the case’s continuation.
NRTW says their attorneys are currently litigating 16 cases that collectively seek over $120 million in refunds of union fees.
According to the organization, union lawyers have asserted a so-called “good faith” defense as workers have asked for refunds. Union officials say they should be permitted to keep funds taken from workers prior to the Supreme Court’s decision last year.
NRTW Foundation President Mark Mix called the case “a milestone of worker freedom,” adding that “rather than accept that the funding of government unions must be completely voluntary, union bosses continue to block workers from exercising their rights and to deny workers refunds for the constitutional violations union officials committed.”
A YouGov poll released at the end of June by the Teacher Freedom Project found that 52 percent of teachers in the United States still are not aware they can leave their unions without paying a fee.
The survey found over three in four teachers (77 percent) have not even heard of the Janus case. Nevertheless, 74 percent of teachers say union membership should be voluntary, and 84 percent agree teachers should be able to join or quit a union at any time.
Results of the poll indicate that a vast majority of teachers have not been contacted by their unions regarding the landmark Supreme Court decision. Of those teachers who participated in the survey, 82 percent said they did not think anyone from the union contacted them about the ruling.
“Union leaders may claim their members have opted to renew after the Janus decision, but that is very misleading,” said Colin Sharkey, executive director of the Association of American Educators, which supports the Teacher Freedom Project. “In truth most teachers still do not know their rights and aren’t aware they can reconsider their union membership. Even if they do, it is still too difficult to exercise those rights and far too many teachers are misinformed about what happens after they leave the union.”
Patrick Semmens, vice president of NRTW Legal Defense Foundation, said in a statement to Breitbart News the poll “reflects the massive disinformation campaign teacher union bosses launched to keep teachers in the dark about the actual findings of the Janus decision.”
“Teachers, like all Americans, have consistently supported the idea that union membership and dues payment should be voluntary, not coerced, yet both before and after the Supreme Court’s ruling union officials have consistently misrepresented the case in their efforts to block educators from exercising their Janus rights,” he said.