The Buckeye Institute’s Legal Fight for Public Workers Will Protect the First Amendment Rights of Millions

Lisa A. Gates Jun 28, 2019

Immediately following the Supreme Court’s landmark Janus decision, The Buckeye Institute launched its comprehensive and multi-pronged Workers Choose campaign to notify hundreds of thousands of public employees in Ohio of their newly-recognized Janus rights through direct mail and targeted online ads.

The Buckeye Institute was not satisfied to stop there, but insisted upon asking the next big question in labor law, namely, “if it violates the First Amendment to compel financial support for union advocacy, how on earth can states require these same public employees to speak through unions that many of them choose not to join?”

With the potential to protect the First Amendment rights of millions of public-workers, Buckeye was the first organization in the country to file lawsuits after the Janus ruling calling on courts to end laws that force public-sector employees to accept a union’s exclusive representation.

In its cases so far, Buckeye is already in three circuits fighting for hardworking, dedicated public-servants—Professor Kathy Uradnik in MinnesotaJade Thompson in Ohio, and Professor Jonathan Reisman in Maine—all of whom quit their unions, but are still forced to accept exclusive representation that violates their First Amendment rights. They have shared their personal and compelling stories in op-eds (Kathy, Jade, Jonathan) and in compelling videos.

In writing last Labor Day on the need to end these unconstitutional laws, Robert Alt, president and CEO of Buckeye, summed up the issue, “Unfortunately, many of these hardworking public servants are being denied their free speech rights by state governments that force them to accept representation by a labor union. We owe it to them to fix that problem.”

In addition to Kathy, Jade, and Jonathan’s cases, Buckeye has partnered with Liberty Justice Center to represent three custodians at Kent State University who are fighting to have the union stop withholding illegal deductions from their paychecks.

Kathy’s Story

Jade’s Story

Jonathan’s Story

Lisa A. Gates is the vice president of communications at The Buckeye Institute.