Governor Bruce Rauner is praising today's Janus v AFSCME ruling...saying it protects free speech rights of state workers.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public-sector workers who opt out of a union shouldn't be forced to pay dues to cover contract negotiations. Governor Rauner says they'll be notifying state employees of their constitutional rights.
"For those state employees who want to be in a union and support the union and pay dues, they are welcome to do that. They'll be supported in doing that and we'll help them collect those dues. For those state employees who don't agree with the union, don't want to be in the union, they will no longer be required to pay any dues at all and we'll have a website and process for them to be able to opt out of the union not pay any dues."
Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin says she's disappointed by the ruling. She says it's never been more vital for those who believe in fair contracts to use their collective voice to make sure students have access to a high-quality public education.
"We will continue to spread the truth about the importance of union membership to all of our brothers and sisters working in schools. This fight is just beginning. We won't let them stop us."
The National Education Association, the largest teacher's union, has predicted it will lose as many as 300-thousand members, but Bridget Shanahan, with the union's Illinois organization, isn't so sure.
"And I mean, we know that that's what Gov. Rauner and the special interest groups and the conservative right are looking for is to destroy us, but I can tell you the sentiment from our members is: They're angry, and they're upset about this ruling. They see it as an attack on public education, and an attempt to weaken our voice, and they're ready to fight."
Democratic hopeful for Illinois governor JB Pritzker was among those criticizing the US Supreme Court's decision in the Janus case. At a campaign stop in Springfield, Pritzker called the court's decision a deliberate "attack" pushed by Governor Bruce Rauner.
"He has weakened their ability to collectively bargain by doing this. Ya know, that was his goal in first place: lower the power of working families, lower the power of middle-class families across the state so he can lower wages for them."
Pritzker gave an indirect response to questions about what he would do about the decision as governor, saying he needed to further examine it. While Pritzker's campaign is backed by organized labor, his family's Hyatt Hotel brand has been the target of labor disputes as recently as last year.
The man at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case involving public sector unions says his fight was all about freedom.
Mark Janus, a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, challenged the roughly 45-dollars a month he was forced to pay. He spoke outside the Supreme Court after the decision was made public.
"It's just that the worker has the ability to make his own decision, or her decision. And that's why I brought this case. It's up to the workers to decide what they want for themselves, not some other larger entity."
Janus made it clear he disagreed with the AFSCME union political activity, even though fair share fees are to be used for workplace negotiations and other similar matters. About half the states already banned the mandatory union fees.