We Must Get Ready for the Next ‘Friedrichs’ SCOTUS Case

A new case from Illinois that is almost a carbon copy of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Associationis heading to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal court upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of requiring “fair-share” fees for public sector workers.

Freidrichs thankfully ended in a 4-4 decision after Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly died in 2016. But now the new case, Janus v. AFSCME, which threatens to take away the right of public sector unions to collect dues from workers we represent, is pursuing the same strategy as Friedrichs in trying to get to the Supreme Court quickly.

Janus was originally filed by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, but now it is being led by state employee Mark Janus, against our Union and the Teamsters, asserting that our unions’ collection of fees from non-union workers is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit in March. But we know that the backers of the lawsuit—those such as the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation—are already preparing for the next step: the U.S. Supreme Court.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders has already come out against the Janus v. AFSCME case, saying it represents a renewed effort by corporate and special interest groups to upend the longstanding rights of people who work in public service to come together, speak up for their communities, and get ahead.

“It is clear that the corporate CEOs and wealthy special interests behind this case will stop at nothing to make it harder for public service workers like teachers, firefighters, nurses, and public safety workers to speak up together for better public services, stronger communities, and wages and protections that benefit all Americans,” Saunders said in a recent statement. “Our economy is out of balance, manipulated to benefit those who are already wealthy, and this case could make it even worse.”

What’s more, Congress is scheduled to vote soon on Judge Neil Gorsuch, the President’s appointment for the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate leaders have already changed the rules so that Gorsuch would only need 51 votes for confirmation.

As a Union, we will continue to oppose Gorsuch, the Janus case and any other efforts to rule against working people.