Janus v. AFSCME ruling confirms that government unions are inherently political

Janus v. AFSCME ruling confirms that government unions are inherently political

Illinois Policy Institute research finds government unions often spend more on politics than representation, and political giving skews Democrat

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Janus v. AFSCME that forced union fees are unconstitutional, affirming what many people have known for years: government unions are inherently political.

Government union spending research released today from the Illinois Policy Institute supports that claim.

According to the new research, in the last 10 years, 25 percent of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees headquarters’ spending went to political activities and lobbying, while just 21 percent was spent on representational activities.

The Supreme Court decided in favor of plaintiff Mark Janus, a child support specialist from Illinois who argued that his union, AFSCME, violated his First Amendment rights by using his forced union fees to engage in political speech.

“Union spending is intensely partisan and often does not reflect the views of the workers who are forced to give these unions a portion of their paycheck,” said Mailee Smithstaff attorney and labor expert at the Illinois Policy Institute. “In Illinois, we see government unions funneling funds into a political scheme that has propped up Illinois’ status quo to the detriment of Illinois taxpayers, like Mark Janus. Today’s ruling is a win for government workers across the country who should never have been forced to compromise their freedom of speech.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling affects 5 million public-sector workers in 22 states.

Highlights from the Illinois Policy Institute’s research on government union spending:

  • The American Federation of Teachers spent nearly $160 million on political activities and lobbying from 2013-2017.
  • In the 2016 election cycle alone, AFT PAC’s contributions to federal candidates topped $1.7 million to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton; Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. AFT spent just $5,500 on federal Republican candidates.
  • In the 2016 election cycle, the National Education Association directed almost $1.9 million to federal-level candidates, most of which were Democrats, with the biggest recipient being Hillary Clinton.
  • 74 percent of Illinois AFSCME Council 31’s political contributions from 2013 to 2017 were directed towards Democratic committees or organizations. Just 6 percent went to Republican committees or organizations. This is the state affiliate that represents Mark Janus’ workplace.

Government workers who no longer wish to support the union in their workplace now have the ability to opt out of union fees altogether.

To learn more about opting out, visit leavemyunion.com.

To read the full research, visit illin.is/unionspending.

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