October 2017 Issue
- Labor Issues
October 24, 2017

Who is Janus? And why should you care?

Source: NYSUT United

Here's the thing about existential threats: You have to take them one at a time.

A year and a half ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided for the defendants in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. In a 4-4 deadlock, the court upheld decades-old precedent that says those who benefit from union representation must pay fair-share fees. We won! Right?

Well, the 4-4 tie was, of course, precipitated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Get ready for the big rematch.

The Supreme Court in September agreed to hear Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case that again challenges fair-share fees and threatens public sector unions. Janus culminates decades of attacks on working people by corporate CEOs, the wealthiest 1 percent, and the politicians who do their bidding.

So, how much do you know about the next battle over "fair share?" Take our quiz:

1. Who is Janus?
a. A film distributor known for introducing many foreign classics to American audiences.
b. A whiny television character who dated Chandler Bing on "Friends."
c. Mark Janus, a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare Services, who benefits from union representation but does not want to pay his fair share for those benefits.

2. Janus v. AFSCME aims to:
a. Limit the freedom of working people to join together in unions.
b. Make it easier for workers to join together for the purpose of collective bargaining.
c. Allow consumers to cut the union label off of their pillows and bedding without fear of prosecution.

3. People keep talking about Abood. What is that?
a. A Boston-based, high-end clothing designer.
b. A side dish made with beans and rice served in Turkish cuisine.
c. The 1970s case in which the Supreme Court determined it was fair and reasonable to expect people who benefit from union representation to pay something for it.

4. Who really initiated Janus?
a. Someone named Harris V. Quinn.
b. New York City Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy.
c. Billionaire Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in an overt political attack on public sector workers. He was later found to have "no standing" to bring suit. Undeterred, Janus, was then used to sign on instead.

5. Who said: "At the end of the day, your union fights to protect your salary, pensions and rights in the workplace."
a. NYSUT President Andy Pallotta
b. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
c. Mr. Met


1. C
2. A
3. C
4. C