“I moved here about seven and a half years ago and got a job at the health department. I had never been in a union before. They said ‘OK, well now that you work here, you have to be in the union.’

“The first union meeting I went to I was voted in as president. There was a lady who said ‘you should come to the union meeting today’ and I said ‘why?’ and she said ‘just come’ and she nominated me to be president.

“I [opted out] right when I stopped being president. They asked me to be president again, I said no and opted out the next day.

“Janus had already been in effect for several months. I was in the AFSCME union and we just got no backing at all. The entire time I was president they never took up any grievance that we brought to them. Not one. ‘Management has the right to mismanage,’ that was [our union rep’s] continuous response. That’s a direct quote. OK, well, that’s not alright with me.

“They never had any backing for us at all. They never would stand up for us, they never did anything for us. We weren’t being represented. They wanted our dues, [and] to increase our dues … The only thing they want to benefit is themselves, their own checkbooks.

“We have people there, secretaries, administrative assistants making $12 or $13 an hour and yet they’re paying $600 a year in union dues. That’s a pretty big chunk when you’re making $12 an hour.

“None of the people know there that they don’t have to be dues-paying members. They have no idea.

“They don’t realize they can opt out.

“I would get stuff in the mail [from AFSCME] promoting this candidate or that candidate. I don’t want my money to go to that. I voiced my opinion a few times to say ‘I don’t agree with this candidate.’ They’d say, ‘This is how we do it here, they’re for union rights.’ It was totally against my political beliefs.

“I didn’t identify with any of this stuff. I didn’t identify with anything they were trying to sell, and I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I was forced to give money to them to spend however they saw fit.

“Our union rep from AFSCME said, as soon as [Janus] comes down it’s going to be a big problem. He wanted us to make sure that no one was going to leave. He was afraid of a mass exodus. ‘We’re going to lose money and we won’t be able to do all the things we’re doing for you.’ Which was nothing. My plan was to opt out as soon as it came through [after] I finished my term as president.

“[I feel] relieved now that I’m not giving money to something that I don’t believe in.”

John Moss
Morris, Illinois