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Mark Janus is Still Trying to Sue Union for Back Dues

The case is the latest in an effort to get the Supreme Court to order unions to pay back agency fees

Kris LaGrange's picture
Nov 20, 2019

Mark Janus was a public employee in Illinois who teamed up with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund (NRTW), to stop the collection of agency fees and to force right to work on the entire country’s public employee workforce. In the Janus v. AFSCME case, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. With the impact of the case being limited, Janus is now trying to get the courts to defund public employees' unions.

Janus is asking the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear his case about collecting back dues from the American Federations of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union. Janus believes he is owed $3,000. This would account for 2 years worth of dues. Janus is suing for only two years of dues because of statutes of limitations in Illinois that restrict how many years back he can go. Unlike his lawsuit against agency fees, the courts have not decided in Janus’ favor. He has already lost in front of a district court judge, and in front of a three-member panel on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He is now appealing to the entire Seventh Circuit.

So far, these judges have ruled in favor of the union saying that they collected representation fees legally, had spent the money, and did so in good faith, not knowing that they could be liable for it later. In other similar cases, like Uradnik v. Inter-Faculty Association, judges have found in the same way. Without a conflict among the different Circuits, the Supreme Court declined to hear Uradnik’s case in April.

All Janus’ appeals amount to are another move by these anti-union groups to tie up unions in court with the hope that they might find one friendly judge who will decide in their favor. NRTW Legal Defense Fund's William Messenger told The Prospect, that there are currently 40 cases like this jamming up the court system.

“The Court noted that Janus did not propose to give back the benefits that AFSCME had won for him,” AFSCME said on its website. “The Seventh Circuit denied Janus just as the district court before them, and just as federal courts around the country have denied all the plaintiffs in some 20 cases where this similarly bogus claim has been raised.”

If the case makes it’s way to the Supreme Court, and the justices decide in favor of returning union dues money, public employee unions could be on the hook for as much as $120 million.

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