In response to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Illinois lawmakers want to put barriers on a public worker’s ability to leave a union.
In a bipartisan vote on Tuesday, House lawmakers approved of an amended Senate Bill 1784. Swansea Democrat Jay Hoffmann said his bill was in response to Janus v. the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, a 2018 Supreme Court decision that ruled public union activity is inherently political and an individual couldn’t be forced to support a union as a condition of employment.
“This is an attempt to restore employee rights and lay out what public employers in Illinois can and cannot do with regard to union representation and an employee joining a union,” Hoffman said Tuesday. “This does not overturn the Janus decision, this is post-Janus.”
Hoffman has accepted campaign donations from public sector union-controlled political action committees.
The bill has multiple provisions. It restricts a public-sector worker’s ability to withdraw from a union to a once-a-year window. It also restricts employers from talking to employees about union matters beyond things such as compensation. The bill would require the employer to give the union all employee personnel data, but restricts the same data from the state's open records law, and requires employers to grant the union access to the employee on company time.
Some Republicans said it restricted union employees' free speech rights and predicted it would be challenged in court under the provisions set in place by the Janus decision.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that we have civil rights,” state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said. “The Supreme Court has ruled that you do not have to have a third party subtract dues from your paycheck if you do not like.”
The Illinois-based organization that successfully litigated the Janus case weighed in.
“There's no question this bill is in response to the Liberty Justice Center's 2018 victory in Janus v. AFSCME,” said Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney with the Liberty Justice Center. “In that landmark case for workers' rights, the Supreme Court held that public sector employees cannot be compelled to give money to a union without providing affirmative consent. This bill is designed to make it more difficult for employees to exercise that right.”