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Legislative Backstop Planned for Janus Claims

Despite a string of court rulings against non-members seeking refunds for fair-share fees paid to labor unions, lawmakers in Springfield want to stem the tide in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling with a legal barrier to such claims. Sen. Donald Harmon is spearheading the drive even as the Illinois public employee for whom the ruling is named intends to fight a 7th Circuit Appellate Court ruling that bars repayment. Mark Janus, whose case overturned a decades-old federal precedent on costs for union representation in salary negotiations, sued an AFL-CIO local for damages after that 2018 victory.

Appellate judges also denied a class-action restitution claim brought by a Eureka teacher against the Illinois Education Association. Their rulings are in line with decisions by courts in more than a dozen jurisdictions that have followed on the heels of Janus, which challenged so-called agency payments on free speech grounds. Like a similar piece of legislation that has cleared the House, the Oak Park Democrat’s bill would provide clarification over retroactive refunds in cases involving public employees. It also would provide a codified procedure for non-members seeking workplace representation.