The U.S. Supreme Court could revisit the case barring public-sector unions from collecting fees from nonmembers without their explicit consent in a case that could determine whether public employees will be refunded hundreds of millions of dollars in union dues taken from their paychecks in the 40 years before that decision.
The court held a conference for a case Thursday to consider a petition by former Illinois state worker Mark Janus and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
As part of his original suit, in which the high court ruled that forcing public employees to pay fees to a union they don’t want to join is unconstitutional, Janus sought the return of $3,000 in feeds he paid to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 3, et al., over several years. Justices sent that part of the case back to the lower courts for review, but it is now back before the high court.
Janus, a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, won the original lawsuit, in which he argued he should not have to pay “agency fees” or “fair share fees” to a union as a condition of employment. Such fees form nonunion workers, allowable since the 1977 case of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, are meant to help cover costs related to collective bargaining.
Several states have filed legislation to issue clarifying opinions on Janus, according to published reports.