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Rauner has Janus victory, but not clear it will translate to votes

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, left, shakes hands with Liberty Justice Center founder and chairman John Tillman, second from left, as he walks to microphones to speak outside the Supreme Court after the court rules in a setback for organized labor that states can't force government workers to pay union fees, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in Washington. Also pictured is Liberty Justice Center's Director of Litigation Jacob Huebert, and plaintiff Mark Janus, right. | Andrew Harnik/AP

The Supreme Court handed GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner a legacy victory in the anti-public union Janus v AFSCME Council 31, landmark case, but it was not clear on Wednesday if this will translate into votes in his election battle with Democrat J.B. Pritzker.

The win is Rauner’s biggest achievement to date in terms of policy and politics, sticking it to his nemesis, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Ill., who doubles as the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois and dependent on union cash.

Financial and foot soldier support from Democrat allied unions make them powerful players within the party — locally and nationally.

The Janus defeat marks a turning point in public sector collective bargaining.

Video by Taryn Galbraith | Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks about the Supreme court ruling in the Janus case.

Government unions cannot take union dues and non-member fees for granted in the wake of Janus and have been mobilizing to retain and recruit members. Instead of just focusing on the 2018 elections, unions will also, at the same time, have to step up drives to recruit and retain members who now can simply opt-out.

Hours after the ruling, Rauner cut off revenues to the state of Illinois government unions by ordering the state to stop collecting fees from non-members from the paychecks.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision ruled government workers who choose not to join unions cannot be compelled to pay “fair share” dues on the grounds that the payments violated their constitutional First Amendment free speech rights.

Here’s a rundown on the Janus political fallout:

RAUNER V. PRITZKER

A lack of accomplishments is among Pritzker’s chief criticisms of the Republican governor.

Now Rauner has one.

Rauner has a few options on how to market his Janus win — casting himself as a champion of free speech or the crusader against politicized unions who are blocking financial reform.

He certainly is the father of the case. Rauner filed the lawsuit just after taking office in 2015 that led to the Supreme Court.

The Rauner political operation jumped on the decision, using it as a recruiting tool on its website highlighting the “victory for free speech and taxpayers” to collect names and emails of potential backers.

The Janus case makes it clearer that:

* State Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, jumping in to the race serves only to siphon votes from Rauner.

His independent extremely long-shot bid was bankrolled by the anti-Janus International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, among other unions.

McCann is the rare Republican in Illinois who publicly opposed Janus, taking on Rauner — and the conservative network handling the legal work on the case.

McCann, whose district is home to many state workers, said in a statement “Illinois’ working families are not the enemy, but the solution, and they can count on me to give them the respect they deserve.”

Rauner now has more ammunition to accuse McCann of being a tool of Madigan and the state unions who are the backbone of the Democratic party.

“A true small government conservative would never advocate for the government forcing a business to provide it services for free, but this [is] just one piece of the anti-worker agenda that Bruce Rauner has used to hold Illinois hostage over the past four years,” McCann said in a statement.

*Rauner now has improved prospects to pick up the pieces left splintered in a contentious March primary that saw him winning by a squeaker — three percentage points ahead of State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, an ultra-conservative candidate.

Though abortion was the wedge issue that fueled Ives run, Rauner’s Janus conservative bona fides may give him an opening to woo back non-single issue conservatives who are still persuadable.

BIGGEST WIN YET FOR ILLINOIS CONSERVATIVE NETWORKS

The Janus win could increase the political and policy influence of the conservative Illinois Policy Institute and its affiliated Liberty Justice Center, which provided Janus with the legal firepower needed to kick the case up to the Supreme Court. This is their biggest policy win to date.

Though Rauner and the IPI related groups had a falling out — all its top honchos backed Ives — like families at Thanksgiving, they were united over the Janus win.

Rauner, Janus and John Tillman, the CEO of the IPI and the Chairman of the Liberty Justice Center stood together at the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Anything that smooths over rifts between Rauner and the IPI influencers helps. Ives, by the way, isn’t backing Rauner or McCann, at least as of Wednesday.

RAHM V. MANY

The Chicago Teachers Union, with some zeal, tied the Janus ruling to their biggest foe: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who faces a tough re-election bid next February. Since the CTU has so many issues with Emanuel, it’s hard to see how Janus alone will emerge as a top tier problem for Emanuel.

A wrenching fight between Democrats, Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said in statement, “Today we will see neoliberal Democratic Party political bosses like Rahm Emanuel shaking their fist at this decision, acting as if they have not been bi-partisan partners in the erosion of workers’ rights, co-conspirators in the austerity movement and willing allies in the theft of job and retirement security.”

Video by Colin Boyle | CTU vice president reacts with union members to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on Janus.

Emanuel refused to take the bait.

“I see this as an attack on working families — not on me. I’m not gonna do this,” the mayor said.

“I’m proud … that about 368,000 Chicagoans are gonna get a raise in their paycheck because of the minimum wage. … I’m very proud of the record I’ve built with my friends in organized labor.”

The mayor closed with one last shot at Rauner for “celebrating that we broke labor” as if it were some kind of a victory.

“It’s not a victory for taxpayers. And it’s not a victory that I would celebrate. I disagree with it,” Emanuel said.

Illinois Attorney General

Departing Democratic Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is part of a network of Democratic AG’s who are mounting legal challenges to President Donald Trump policy agenda. The next AG will make a difference.

The Janus ruling created a clear divide in the race.

Democratic nominee State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, decried the Janus decision.

Republican contender Erika Harold, from Urbana, welcomed the Janus ruling.

DILUTED UNION POWER

National unions play roles in local contests and the Janus ruling means a financial hit.

While a major setback, union leaders said in conference call with reporters on Wednesday the Janus ruling will energize their locals to fight harder to prove the value of public sector collective bargaining.

The coalition of national unions most affected by Janus are predicting an immediate revenue loss as governments stop collecting “fair share” or “agency” fees from non-union employees. “But not the kind of draconian existential threat that the right wing attempted to do when they started this fight,” says Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Mary Kay Henry, the president of the SEIU said on the call, “union members across this country are united in understanding that we’re not going to let these extremists behind this case divide us.”

Contributing: Fran Spielman, Carol Fowler

DISCLOSURE NOTE: Some unions have ownership stakes in Sun-Times Media, including the Chicago Federation of Labor; Operating Engineers Local 150; SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana and SEIU Local 1.

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OPINION

Janus case is part of continuing attack on workers

Union ‘fair share’ fees protect all workers without infringing on free speech