"You're basically arguing to do away with unions"

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
On Monday, February 26th, lawyers from both sides sparred with judges over whether or not a public employee should be forced to pay for representation that he doesn't agree with. Mark Janus, a 65 year old child support specialist from Illinois, and his lawyers from the National Right to Work Foundation argued that agency fees, or money that is paid to cover the cost of things like collective bargaining and defending a non-member, violate Janus' First Amendment rights because they force him to support positions that he does not agree with.

Questioning began with Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg asking Janus' lawyer Bill Messenger about the validity of other compulsory dues, such as student activity fees or association dues if the court was to decide in Janus favor. UCOMM recently asked a similar question about how the case could backfire on the National Right to Work Foundation. Justice Kagan followed that up by questioning the chaos that could ensue if 22 states became Right to Work and how it would affect the thousands of collective bargaining agreements (CBA) that are currently being enforced. Janus' lawyers argued that clauses in a CBA that would require all workers to pay a fee or dues would expire in a few years and that this shouldn't be used to hold up the case. Trump's Solicitor General also noted that these contracts were negotiated during a time in which the court has been chipping away at these rights, so they should have prepared. "You're basically arguing to do away with unions," said Justice Sotomayor.

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