You probably don’t know who this is.
He was a child support specialist for more than a decade. His job was to help people. When parents weren’t together anymore, he worked to ensure that children received all the financial support available to them.
As an employee of state government, the union automatically deducted money from his paycheck even though he was not a union member. The government gave his state union the power to collect money from almost every employee of state government, even if they didn’t support the unions’ politics and policies. He had no choice, and no voice in the matter.
It turns out that he was one of millions of American workers who were forced to support a government union as a condition of employment. This was a gross violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association. That is why he asked the U.S. Supreme Court to end this practice.
He’s not anti-union and neither was his case. He doesn’t begrudge anyone who wants to form a union, or be part of a union. But what was unfair and unconstitutional is forcing him – and millions of other American workers – to pay to advance policies they oppose just so they can serve our communities and our state.
Meet Mark Janus.
In my eyes, he’s a hero for spending the past three years of his life as the plaintiff in “Janus v. AFSCME.” He went all the way to the Supreme Court and won. And now, teachers and other public sector employees all around the nation no longer have to pay fees or dues to their unions if they do not feel comfortable doing so.
What an honor to meet this humble man and share a conversation with him. He wanted me to say to all of you public school educators: he appreciates you. He thanks you for your tireless efforts on the frontlines every day. And he found it an honor to be the one to take forward this case.
Regardless of whether or not you support this Supreme Court decision, it is an incredible example of the power of one. It just took one person who was willing to hold the torch and carry the burden to make a determination that helps teachers like my husband now have the freedom to CHOOSE. Thank you, Mr. Janus!
Edited to add: I should have noted that I support local unions, I just don’t support unions REQUIRING membership. It just doesn’t seem right, especially in this “live and let live” world that people should be required to participate. If 95% of workers want to participate, then they should be able to. I think it’s only fair to let the other 5% bargain on their own behalf. And if the union workers get paid lots more and people want to join in, more power to them! Ultimately, it’s about the freedom to choose.