Commonwealth Magazine | Andy Metzger | Jun 5, 2019
DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS in the House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to pass a bill backed by all of the state’s public-sector unions that would restore some labor power that had been sapped by a controversial US Supreme Court decision.
In a 5-4 ruling last year, the court sided with Mark Janus, deciding he did not have to pay fees to AFSCME, the union that represented him and other Illinois state workers. The Janus decision created new uncertainty for the financial future of public sector unions, because it cut off one important revenue stream from non-member employees who still owed fees to unions.
The legislation the House approved on a 155-1 vote would allow unions to receive reasonable compensation when they represent non-union employees in arbitration cases and other labor disputes. That aspect of the bill was not controversial, but Republican House members tried unsuccessfully to limit the employee data that unions would receive under the legislation.
“I think it’s a fair argument to say, ‘Look, you’re not in the union. Fine. You don’t want to pay an agency fee. You don’t want to pay dues. But if the union’s going to have to represent you in a grievance or something like that, they should be able to have a reasonable fee,’” said Rep. Brad Jones, the House Republican leader, after the vote. “I think everybody bought into that.”
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