The man at the center of the case of public sector unions and fair share fees is a state employee from Springfield. Mark Janus took his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court and on Wednesday, he was victorious. The decision means non-union members won't have to pay those fees to cover activities like collective bargaining.
When the ruling finally came, Janus was already stationed in Washington -- as he had been all week. Outside the Supreme Court building, he was received by supporters chanting his name and thanking him for representing non-union workers.
Janus said he welcomed the support. "For more people to come out and be even more vocal, you know, in on our behalf, I think was was quite interesting and also very, very uplifting to know that there are a lot of people out there that do agree with our opinion."
Governor Bruce Rauner, also in Washington, said he was satisfied with the ruling, calling it "a victory for freedom of speech".
“It’s also a historic victory for taxpayers who for too long have borne the unfair high cost of the conflicts of interest inherent when government union leaders negotiate with but also support politicians,” he said.
Rauner supported the case’s main argument that workers should have the opportunity to opt out of paying, even while reaping benefits from collective bargaining.
But while Rauner and Janus celebrated the outcome, unions across the country voiced their disappointment at what they call a blow to working people's rights.
AFSCME’s executive director in Illinois, Roberta Lynch, said Rauner has been after unions since before he took office. “From the day that Rauner came into office, his goal—and he was very explicit about it— was to destroy public sector unions," she said.
Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois — with more than 90,000 members in four states —agreed. He said while the ruling puts them at a disadvantage, the group will continue to fight for workers' rights. "Our experiences have taught us that when our members step up, understand what's happening — that they come together stronger."
Kelley said one worry about the decision is weaker bargaining power, but said members are ready to mobilize.
As for Janus —he said he's ready to leave the limelight and return to work in Springfield.