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Janus v. AFSCME is a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court filed by the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center and the Washington, D.C.-based National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee. If the justices rule in favor of Janus, the decision could:

  • Provide right-to-work protection for all public employees in the country. Right-to-work means a union cannot get a worker fired for not paying dues or fees.

  • Allow public workers to opt out of their union without needing to renew their objection every year. Currently, many unions require members who opt out to redo the paperwork each year in order to refrain from paying for union politics.


All workers, whether they are in a right-to-work state or not, have the right to leave their union.

In non-right-to-work states, however, employees can only opt out of paying the portion of their dues that go directly to support political causes or candidates. They still must pay the vast majority of their dues in what are known as agency fees.

Mark Janus argues collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently political, and government unions devote more resources to their political agenda than just the small portion of dues which are exempt from agency fees. Because of the political nature of collective bargaining, workers have a First Amendment right to not pay any dues or fees to a union.


If the justices rule in favor of Mark Janus, government workers across the country would not need to pay unions as a condition of employment. Workers in the 28 right-to-work states already have this right and some government workers in a few non-right-to-work states have similar rights. This means that such a decision would only affect workers in roughly half the states in the country.

Further, Mackinac Center research provided to the Supreme Court in two amicus briefs (available here and here) on the similar and related Friedrichs case has shown that in right-to-work states, only about 20 percent of unionized workers exercise these rights, meaning that unions in these states still have the financial support of about 80 percent of workers on average.

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JANUS Case Documents TOP

Friedrichs Case Documents