The Illinois state worker behind a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public workers cannot be forced to pay union dues said Thursday morning that the unions will be forced to do a better job selling themselves.

“A lot of these unions have asked for, and received, the ability to inclusively, collectively bargain for everybody,” Mark Janus said during an interview with Albany radio. “Now that this decision has come down, they’re going to have to come out and sell a product, if you will, and they will have to prove to the individuals that there is a definite benefit for being part of the union.”

Janus — who said the decision will save him about $50 a month — said it was more about the issue than the money. He called it “mainly a matter of choice.”
“I did not have a choice when I went to work for the state of Illinois as to whether I wanted to be part of the union,” he said.
The 5-4 Supreme Court decision released Wednesday ruled in Janus’ favor over AFSCME that public sector unions cannot force employees to pay dues unless they affirmatively sign up to be part of the labor organization.
The decision has been blasted by the labor sector and many Democratic officials as a damaging blow to the politically powerful public unions.
Janus does not agree.
“I don’t see it happening at all,” he said, noting the federal government for years has not required forced agency fees and dues. “They are still going to have collective bargaining. They will still have their union membership.”
He said, “all we’re asking for is the choice to make our own decision. Up until (Wednesday) we didn’t. We were forced to do what they wanted us to do.”
Janus also dismissed as “ludicrous” the argument from the labor side that workers who choose not to join a union should pay fees because they benefit from the collectively bargained contracts.
In New York, the Supreme Court decisions could impact 1.2 million public-sector workers, according to the Empire Center for Public Policy.
Currently, some 200,000 government workers in the state have chosen not to join unions immediately. The decision that they don’t have to pay dues will save them over $110 million a year while another million who signed union membership cards, believing they’d have no choice but to pay the union, will have the option to reconsider, the Empire Center analysis found.
Despite his legal fight, Janus insisted he is not anti-union.
“If somebody wants to voluntarily go out and join a union, God bless them,” he said.
With the court fight behind him, Janus, 65, said he will just return to his job as a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
He said during the three years the case has gone on, he has not faced workplace retaliation, though he has been shunned in the hallways by some union members. But he said “a lot more people would come up and thank me for what I was doing and were very supportive.”

You may also like

Editorial: Cuomo’s problematic Medicaid maneuvers

“It’s everything that’s wrong with Albany in one ugly deal,” Bill Hammond, a health policy expert at the fiscally conservative Empire Center, told The Times. Read More

MTA, LIRR union relationship worse than ever; up next is collective bargaining

The MTA’s heightened focus on overtime follows an April financial report from the Empire Center for Public Policy that revealed alarmingly high overtime rates among some MTA employees, including former LIRR chief measurement officer Thomas Caputo, who made $344,147 in overtime on top of his base salary of $117,499. Read More


An April report from the Empire Center for Public Policy highlighted a 16% surge last year in overtime costs at the MTA — where the $418 million payroll cost in 2018 was $82 million more than what the authority expects to take in from the last fare and toll increases. Read More

EDITORIAL: Prevailing wage leads to prevailing waste

Research has found that prevailing wage requirements increase the cost of construction. In New York, a 2017 report released by the Empire Center for Public Policy found that prevailing wage requirements inflated the cost of publicly funded construction projects in the state by 13 to 25 percent. Read More

Post-Janus, battle for dues paying union members heats up

The battle over public-sector union dues in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision heated up on Wednesday as the Cuomo Administration and outside groups offered up differing opinions on the importance of membership cards. Read More

Unions fight back after Supreme Court defeat

“The unions had said the loss of agency fees would diminish their political power,” the Empire Center’s Ken Girardin explained. “Reducing their power would put them on a level playing field” with government officials while negotiating, perhaps yielding less-lucrative contracts. Read More

Supreme Court blow to mandatory union dues likely to have big impact in New York

The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday striking down requirements that public-sector employees covered by union contracts pay union fees even if they are not union members could have a dramatic impact in New York. Read More

Janus decision: What it means in New York, the nation’s most unionized state

The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that unions cannot collect fees from non-members could have wide implications across New York, which has the nation’s most heavily unionized public sector. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.