Reason Podcast

Meet Mark Janus, Whose Supreme Court Case May End Compulsory Union Dues: Podcast

The social worker at the heart of Janus v. AFSCME explains why no public employee should be forced to pay union dues.


Mark Janus is a "child-support specialist" who works for the State of Illinois. He's also at the center of a Supreme Court case that may end the ability of public-sector unions to collect dues even from workers who are not members and who don't want to be represented in collective bargaining. Oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME will be heard on Monday, February 23, and should be decided by the end of June.

In 22 states, public-sector unions can force non-members to pay for costs related to collective bargaining and workplace representation. Janus tells Reason's Nick Gillespie he was never told about that arrangement until he saw dues being deducted from his first paycheck. He argues that forcing him to pay for a service he doesn't want from a group he doesn't belong to violates his First Amendment guarantees of voluntary association and free speech. (His union explicitly supports candidates in elections.) "The union voice is not my voice," he has written. "The union's fight is not my fight."

The dispute, writes Reason's Eric Boehm, "is best thought of as a sequel to Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a 2016 Supreme Court case that raised the same question about whether public-sector unions can extract political dues from recalcitrant members. That case ended in a 4–4 draw after Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death left the Court with an even number of conservative and liberal members. For obvious reasons, that means all eyes in this case will be fixed on the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch."

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

Don't miss a single Reason podcast! (Archive here.)

Subscribe at iTunes.

Follow us at SoundCloud.

Subscribe at YouTube.

Like us on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.