Labor unions could lose a lot if the justices rule against mandatory dues. "We're ready to fight back".
The AFSCME has charged such fees based on the Supreme Court's 1977 opinion in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, but it has failed at every turn to overcome Janus' challenge. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31.
Organized labor is closely watching a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that could weaken unions by removing eliminating the requirement that nonmembers pay dues to receive the benefits of the contract.
The Freedom Foundation counsel echoed the concerns of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who warned against the very idea of public sector unions.
"The core principle, from the founding to today, is the government has a free rein in regulating expressive rights in the workplace", he said. AFSCME's Naomi Walker has warned that a loss in this case "could undermine political operations that assist the Democratic Party" and damage "the progressive infrastructure in this country, from think tanks to advocacy organizations".
"No matter what happens with this Janus decision ... we have power right here in San Francisco to keep our unions strong. They can go straight to hell, because we're fighting back".
Unions say they are entitled to the fees because they're negotiating on behalf of all public workers - even those who don't choose to join, but who nonetheless benefit from the pay and benefits the unions win.
Slightly less than half the states allow unions to collect fair share fees, while slightly more than half of states prohibit the practice.
Mark Janus, an IL state employee, argues that forcing him to subsidize a union he has declined to join violates his free speech and free association rights. Janus has argued that the agency fees violate his free speech rights, because the union often takes positions with which he disagrees.
The U.S. Constitution bans compelled speech, like being forced to fund political activities.
The sides also dispute whether unions can appropriately distinguish which expenses should be considered when calculating non-member payments. Mario Cilento, the leader of New York State's AFL-CIO, says Janus's legal fees are subsidized by several groups funded by major figures in the conservative movement, including the Koch Brothers. Amazingly, the lawyer for the state of IL argued that its to avoid labor discord.
This would hurt many unions' "fair share" fees that are collected from non-members to cover the cost of collective bargaining.
"The attack that's coming against unions and really against working people, we know what's funding it", he said.
When Donald Trump won the election, however, conservatives who had been backing the effort to roll back public sector unions' influence prepared to bring the question back to the high court once a new justice was confirmed. Thats when the unions tend to become more militant, more confrontational..
Flawed though unions may be, to the extent this state still has a racially and ethnically diverse middle class, it is arguably because of organized labor.
Admittedly, Parrish says, some of that has to do with their agency fees costing only about 3 percent less than their union dues. "They're trying to divide us".
Indeed, if unions are legally required to bargain for paying and non-paying workers equally, it makes economic sense for a worker not to pay.
Lee also said the case could muffle the voices of teachers nationwide. He said he worked as a part-time UPS driver while teaching, because that job was unionized so the benefits were better. "At their core, public sector unions are odd, because you don't have an employee representative bargaining against an employer, a business owner". They're why minimum wages here are rising to $15 an hour and why farmworkers get overtime.
That is the very argument made by Mark Janus, the IL public sector worker at the heart of this case.