Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Judge: Labor unions don't owe non-union state workers refunds, despite unconstitutional fees

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Cook County record
by Jonathan Bilyk

Judge: Labor unions don't owe non-union state workers refunds, despite unconstitutional fees


By Jonathan Bilyk | Mar 19, 2019

Labor unions representing public employees shouldn’t need to refund fees they unconstitutionally collected from non-union employees, because they were acting in “good faith,” relying on state laws and prior legal precedent, a federal judge has ruled.

On March 18, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman sided with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), rejecting a request from plaintiff, former Illinois state employee Mark Janus, for a court order to refund the fees Janus had paid through the years to AFSCME.

“Defendants’ action were in accord with a constitutionally valid state statute,” Gettleman wrote. “Nothing presented by plaintiff prevents application of that defense to defendant AFSCME. Defendant AFSCME followed the law and could not reasonably anticipate that the law would change.”

The ruling comes less than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Janus in his dispute with AFSCME and the state of Illinois, finding states trample the speech and association rights of their non-union employees by forcing them to pay so-called “fair share” or “agency” fees to unions.


The fees were collected under state laws, which were based on the presumption the union would use the fees, which were only slightly discounted from full union membership dues, to offset a union’s bargaining costs.

Legal challenges to the fees first landed before the Supreme Court in 2014, when the high court ruled in Harris v Quinn to strike down compulsory fees collected by unions representing in-home personal care assistants for those with disabilities and child care providers. In that case, the workers were not directly employed by the state, and had never asked to be represented by a union. But because they received subsidy payments from the state on behalf of those to whom they provided care, a state law passed by the Democrat-dominated Illinois General Assembly and signed by Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn declared the Service Employees International Union would represent them and collect their fees.

After the Supreme Court struck down that regime, Janus was the lead plaintiff on a lawsuit challenging the collection of fees from regular non-union state employees, as well.

After the Supreme Court sided against the unions again, Janus filed a motion asking for the refunds. He contended the Harris decision should have put unions on notice that the fees they were collecting from non-union workers were unconstitutional and illegal. Yet, he said, they continued to collect the fees anyway.

He argued this should mean he and other non-union workers should be entitled to refunds.

Such arguments could have placed potentially tens of millions of dollars on the line.

For instance, following the Harris decision, a group of home caregivers attempted to file a class action lawsuit, demanding the SEIU pay them $32 million or more for illegally using the state to collect fees from them.

A federal district judge and the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals have steadfastly refused to allow such a class action to proceed, instead saying such claims should be tried individually.

However, in his decision, Judge Gettleman indicates the unions would likely be insulated from individual claims, as well.

The judge noted, before Janus’ case reached the Supreme Court, the unions and states had collected the fees under the legal precedent established in the decision known as Abood v Detroit Board of Education. In that 1977 ruling, a prior Supreme Court said the such compulsory union fee collections did not violate workers’ constitutional rights.

“Plaintiffs argue that, as the Janus court stated, ‘unions have been on notice for years regarding this Court’s misgivings about [Abood],’ and that ‘any public-sector union seeking an agency fee provision in a collective-bargaining agreement must have understood that the constitutionality of such a provision was uncertain,’” Gettleman wrote. “Despite these statements in Janus, prior to the instant case Abood remained the law of the land.

“And, despite these statements, there was no way for defendant to predict the resolution of this case. Indeed, had the general and/or presidential election resulted differently, the composition of the Supreme Court that decided the case may well have been different, leading to a different result.”

With the ruling, the judge terminated the case.

Janus has been represented in the action by attorneys with the firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, of Chicago; the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, of Springfield, Va.; and the Liberty Justice Center, of Chicago.

Recent Headlines

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Special to

Cook County Assessor’s Office Publicly Releases Residential Assessment Code and Models
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Special to

EDITORIAL: Long in the MWRD pipeline, IG plan needs a yes vote
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Health Cuts Ribbon on Outpatient Center in Arlington Heights
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Celebrate Earth Day with the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Special to

Homeowners in Chicago have just a few weeks to get current on their 2017 property taxes - or risk losing their homes. WBEZ’s Odette Yousef reports.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
WBEZ Chiacgo Public Radio

Editorial: The Foxx-Smollett questions for Inspector General Blanchard
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County pet owners warned of spring coyote dangers
Monday, April 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County inspector general to review prosecutors' handling of Jussie Smollett case
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Foxx requests Cook County IG investigation into handling of Jussie Smollett case
Friday, April 12, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

A challenge to one of Chicago's biggest draws for companies
Friday, April 12, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

What Evanston's assessments tell us about the new assessor's new math
Friday, April 12, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

$3.85 million granted in lawsuit against ex-Cook County forest preserve worker charged in fatal on-the-job crash
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

EDITORIAL: Splitting up the region’s sanitation board is an idea that stinks
Monday, April 08, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lawmakers Look To Keep 10-Year-Olds Out Of Jail
Thursday, April 04, 2019

Property Tax Workshops Help Homeowners Appeal Assessments
Wednesday, April 03, 2019
Evanston RoundTable

Large crowds of Evanston residents turn out to appeal property tax assessments
Tuesday, April 02, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Family of slain cabbie accuses Cook County state's attorney's office of dodging FOIA request
Monday, April 01, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Property Tax Appeal Seminar Set For New Trier Township Residents
Monday, April 01, 2019
Journal and Topics Online

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.