My name is Mark Janus, and I am the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME. I am a child support specialist for state government in Illinois. Quite simply, my job is to help people. When parents aren’t together anymore, I work to ensure that children receive all the financial support available to them.
I love my job. Serving others is part of who I am. But in order to do this type of work, I am forced to check my First Amendment rights at the door. That’s why I’ve asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.
I learned about public service during my youth, when I became a Cub Scout. I worked my way all the way up to rank of Eagle Scout, and have remained active with the scouts throughout my entire adult life. Through scouting I learned self-reliance. But scouting also taught me that I must take an active role in my community; as I better myself, I must also strive to improve the world around me. That’s why public service matters so much to me.
Over the years I’ve worked in the private sector and in government. In the 1980s, I worked in a government job and was not required to pay money to a union. Then I worked for a private company. When I returned to the public sector in 2007, the union automatically deducted money from my paycheck even though I was not a union member. That’s when I learned that state government in Illinois had granted AFSCME – a politically powerful government union – the power to exclusively represent more than 90 percent of state workers in Illinois. The government gave AFSCME the power to collect money from almost every employee of state government, even if we didn’t support the unions’ politics and policies. I had no choice, and no voice in the matter.
It turned out that I was one of millions of American workers who were forced to support a government union as a condition of employment. This is a gross violation of my First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association. So I’ve asked the U.S. Supreme Court to end this practice.
I’m not anti-union. I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to form a union, or be part of a union. But what is unfair and unconstitutional is forcing me – and millions of other American workers – to pay to advance policies we oppose just so we can serve our communities and our state.