Monday, July 23, 2018

The payoff for helping to undermine organized labor influence in Illinois?

I’m sure some are going to accuse me of being overly cynical. Why can’t I appreciate the honesty of someone fighting for their personal ideals, they’ll say about me.

JANUS: W/ Honest Abe looking over his shouder
Yet I couldn’t help but snicker a bit at the weekend news reports about Mark Janus.

HE’S THE CHILD care specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services who allowed his circumstances on the job to be used by the partisan ideologues who were anxious in filing a court case to try to undermine the influence that organized labor has within Illinois state government.

When the Supreme Court of the United States last month ruled in his favor, it was Janus’ name that got national attention. I’m sure for some people, the name “Janus” is now as big a deal as the names of “Roe” and “Wade.”

As in the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that tossed out all the state laws that considered abortion to be the equivalent of a criminal act, and not a decision that was truly a woman’s personal business.

Janus is a long-time state worker who claims he enjoyed his job. But he also has personal views that make him object to having a labor union being involved in his employment.

HE PARTICULARLY RESENTED the notion that even though he didn’t want to join the union (Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), union dues were deducted from his paycheck to cover the cost of the work the union did in representing his on-the-job rights.

That was the basis of his lawsuit, and the high court has ruled in his favor.

Now, the Illinois Policy Institute has offered Janus a job – one he plans to accept and will begin work at come Aug. 1.
Some will forevermore view "Janus" as a bad word
Which probably benefits Janus, since he’ll now be doing blatant partisan political work (a senior fellow speaking out on behalf of workers’ rights, from the social conservative perspective). He’ll probably be happier that way.

BUT IT REALLY comes across as Janus getting his payoff for helping partisan ideologues undermine organized labor – which many state employees do rely upon to ensure the state doesn’t run roughshod over their concerns.
SHAKMAN: Will Janus name gain similar aura?

For the point of this lawsuit is to spark an effort by which many government employees get swayed (or possibly strong-armed) into thinking they should drop out of the AFSCME labor union.

A significant loss of membership would result in a financial loss if it means the union has less in membership dues to fund its work. Get enough people to go along with such talk, and you could start to have a movement for revoking recognition of the union altogether.

Which is the real goal of the ideologues who engage in such rhetoric. Make those “lazy bums” on the state payroll realize they ought to be grateful anybody bothers to employ them. Even though anyone with sense realizes treating employees with a modicum of respect is the real way to get efficient labor from them.

JANUS, WHO IS now 65, likely wasn’t far from being able to retire. Although I’m sure his financial future is significantly stabilized, what with private sector employment that he gets largely because his name was used as the legal basis for the Janus v. AFSCME lawsuit.

Of course, I’m sure those people who think more highly of organized labor will feel he sold them out, so to speak. But I’m not out to put the “Judas” label on Janus. In fact, I’m fairly sure the state payroll would no longer be a pleasant place for him to be employed in the months and years following his involvement with the lawsuit.

How will AFSCME recover from partisan court ruling?
All I know is that a part of me wonders if there’s any truth to the rhetoric being spewed by AFSCME types saying that not many state workers are looking to quit paying dues, and a significant sum of state workers who hadn’t previously joined the union are now doing so!

Janus’ name is going to be remembered for his partisan action far more than the work he did on behalf of children. It will be interesting to see what kind of taint, in coming decades, that will develop. Or if it develops an aura similar to that of "Shakman" (as in Michael, the attorney/activist who inspired the lawsuits that heavily restrict government hiring for partisan political purposes) which I'm sure Janus thinks is likely.


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