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Mark Janus Lobbies for Anti-Union Bill in Kansas

The bill would allow union members to opt out of their union at any point in the year

Brian Young's picture
Mar 19, 2019

Mark Janus, the namesake on the Janus v AFSCME case that brought Right to Work to the entire public sector, has moved on from being a bad public employee and is now traveling around the country advocating for taking away union members voices at work. His latest trip brought him to Kansas where the legislature is trying to pass a law that will further hamper unions ability to work on their member's behalf.

The bill, Senate Bill 175, would allow public employees to stop paying union dues at any time, even if they signed up for a yearlong membership. The bill also would require employers to send annual notices to union members to let them know they can forgo payments at any time. This would mean that local unions would be unable to project revenue throughout the year and would be forced to limit long term planning and spending, further hampering their ability to fairly represent their members at both the local bargaining level and at the state lobbying level.

In his testimony, Janus told the Senators that he felt violated, which caused him to sue to stop the union from collecting agency fees. After Janus spoke, Dave Trabert, president of the Kansas Policy Institute told the Leavenworth Times that if the Senate does not pass the proposed bill they will have no choice but to sue the state. Janus, who is a resident of Illinois, currently works for Trabert’s sister organization the Illinois Policy Institute. The hearing was a who’s who of anti-union activists with the Koch brothers-backed State Policy Institutes being joined by the representatives from the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and the Mackinac Center’s Workers for Opportunity initiative.

With so many out of state people at the hearing, Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City questioned whether anyone from Kansas actually wanted the bill.

“I don’t see a Kansas version of Janus sitting here before us today telling us why we need to change the laws,” Holland said. “I see a number of conservative think tanks funded by Koch Industries that tell us why we need to change the laws. So where are the Kansas workers today telling us we need to change the laws?”

Union representatives from the Kansas AFL-CIO and the Kansas National Educators Association (KNEA) also testified.

“Instead of attacking hard-pressed working families, our Legislature should focus on bringing back lost jobs and restoring an economy that works for all Kansans — not just a few,” said Terry Forsyth of the KNEA. “We call on you to stop the distractions and divisions and invest in Kansas again.”

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