Mark Janus, an employee of the state of Illinois, agreed to be the plaintiff in a lawsuit funded by right wing business interests designed to destroy public unions. Now he’s getting his payoff.
Less than one month ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Janus in the case Janus v. AFSCME. The ruling means that public employees who work in union workplaces, are covered by union contracts, and are represented by the union in grievances may choose not to pay any fees to the union to cover the costs of representing them. This will inevitably drain membership, money, and, most important, political clout from all public unions, which was the point all along.
Every lawsuit needs a plaintiff, and Mark Janus, who worked in the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, volunteered to put his name on a suit that was always destined for the Supreme Court. He ensured that he will be forever be associated with the right wing effort to destroy labor unions in America. And what his stated motivation? To save $45 a month in fees that AFSCME took from his check.
Ironically, now that Janus has won, he will not even get a chance to save those forty five bucks a month. Last Friday was his last day at work. You may be shocked to learn that Mark Janus—what a coincidence!—has landed a job as a “senior fellow” at the Illinois Policy Institute, one of the right wing think tanks that supported his legal case. Even more coincidentally, this is the exact same career path taken by Rebecca Friedrichs, the California school teacher who lent her name to the first Supreme Court case meant to destroy public unions (a case that unexpectedly ended in a tie when Antonin Scalia died). Friedrichs has now found work as a pundit at right wing think tanks as well. Funny how that works.
We spoke to one of Mark Janus’ coworkers (who is a proud union member) on Friday, Janus’ last day in the office. The union threw a party that day and 76 people attended. Janus’ personal party, the coworker said, drew four people.
Mark Janus and Rebecca Friedrichs have both played major roles in ensuring that literally millions of their fellow public workers will experience materially worse lives in decades to come. In exchange they received cushy sinecures in the right wing “ideas” industry.
Now they work exclusively with assholes and they’ll fit right in.