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Federal Appeals Court Rejects Fair-Share Refund

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Despite persuading the US Supreme Court to overturn a decades-old decision on union representation for non-members, the Illinois state employee at the center of that free-speech case cannot recover fees paid to an AFL-CIO local. According to judges in the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Mark Janus failed to prove that the state acted unlawfully when it deducted $44 each month from his Health and Human Services paycheck under a so-called fair-share agreement. In a 30-page ruling, the three-member panel sided with US District Court Judge Robert Gettleman’s ruling that the change in federal law that eliminated agency representation cannot be applied retroactively.

Last year, a divided Supreme Court agreed that such payments violate the First Amendment because they compel individuals to subsidize the speech of other private parties. This despite caveats that direct contributions from non-members only for representation in salary negotiations and workplace administration. However, because the Supreme Court failed to address the issue in reversing the 1977 ruling that permitted agency payments, Janus and others who’d protested the regime cannot reclaim their contributions. Former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner initially challenged fair-share agreements in 2015 but Gettlemen ruled that his suit lacked standing because the Republican was not sufficiently connected to the case.