Illinois state workers who opted out of union should see pay hikes by July

Mailee Smith

Staff Attorney and Director of Labor Policy

Mailee Smith

Joe Tabor

Policy Analyst

Joe Tabor
/ Labor
June 29, 2018

Illinois state workers who opted out of union should see pay hikes by July

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME means state workers previously paying “fair share” fees will no longer see any money deducted from their paychecks on behalf of a union.

After a June 27 victory for Illinois child-support specialist Mark Janus, state workers like him will soon see more money going into their pockets – at no additional expense to taxpayers.

State workers who opted out of union membership prior to the Janus ruling still had to pay “fair share” fees to the union. These fees total around $700 a year on average for state workers who opted out of full union dues, according to the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, or CMS. But after the court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that those fees violated workers’ First Amendment rights, the state will stop deducting them from worker paychecks.

Since the fee deductions will stop – likely effective for payroll from June 16 to June 30 – workers such as Janus who have opted out should no longer see fees deducted on their July paychecks.

Beyond fair share fees, the state could stop collecting money on behalf of unions from all state workers – not just nonmembers. The Supreme Court held that employees must “clearly and affirmatively consent” before any fees are taken from their paychecks. That signifies government employees must actively opt into union membership, potentially relieving millions of workers from the cumbersome obligation of “opting out.”

It should not matter whether a worker previously signed a membership card or authorized a dues deduction, because the conditions of membership versus non-membership were different. Those who chose to be members were not presented with constitutional options, meaning that consent was not fully informed.

Employees who opt out of the union will receive the same employment benefits that union members receive, such as healthcare benefits and retirement benefits. In fact, Illinois unions fought for the right to monopoly bargaining powers on behalf of all government workers – members and nonmembers alike.

The Janus decision gives more than 5 million government workers – including hundreds of thousands in Illinois – a choice on where to spend their hard-earned money, recognizing their fundamental rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Over the past 10 years, AFSCME headquarters spent more money on political activities and lobbying efforts than it did on representing public employees. Before the Janus ruling, public employees were forced to support the union even if they disagreed with its politics.

If you are a government employee and would like to exercise your rights to opt out, you can find more information at leavemyunion.com.

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