As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, Country, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 on Monday, February 26, 2018, public employees, parents, workplace freedom advocates, and think tank leaders gathered for the Stand with Janus Rally. Waving signs and cheering, they helped spread the message that no one should be forced to pay a union in order to keep his or her job.

Thirty people from more than 20 states took to the rally podium to share personal stories about why this case is so important to them and why they choose to “Stand with Mark.”

Among them were people like Minnesota teacher Aaron Benner, who ultimately left the public sector to teach private school after his union failed to support him when he was physically attacked by a student. His union even spoke out against him publicly when he questioned the district policy that had prevented teachers from effectively disciplining students.

Photo Credit: Center of the American Experiment

Karen Cuen, a California teacher and plaintiff in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association—the predecessor to Janus v. AFSCME—shared how she became disenchanted with her union when she realized it wasn’t interested in doing what was best for students or the education system.

As the oral arguments happened inside the Court, the ralliers outside shared positive messages with signs reading “Stand with Workers,” “Stand with Mark,” and “My Job, My Choice.” They were often able to silence the opposing, anti-choice protestors by the power of their stories. Chicago teacher Joseph Ocol was one such speaker, who hushed the crowed when he shared that his union expelled him simply because he chose to coach his student chess team rather than participate in a union strike. Not long after he risked his job to cross the picket line, his students won the national championship.

Reverend Derek McCoy, executive vice president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, reminded ralliers and nearby union protesters that the First Amendment is both the reason they were able to freely voice their disagreements and the reason why government workers like Mark should not be forced to pay for political activities and causes they disagree with.

To the more than 100 people who rallied in support of Mark Janus on the steps of the Supreme Court, and to the many more of you who supported his fight for workplace freedom in your states, thank you! Together, we were able to show the country that Mark Janus is but one of millions of workers who deserve a choice and a voice in union membership.

Photo Credit: Chantal Lovell, State Policy Network

To learn more about this case, check out our 5 Things to Know about Janus v. AFSCME and see our landing page for an overview of the network’s involvement.

Visit SPN’s Facebook page to see more photos from the event.