Following Janus Decision, The Buckeye Institute Blazes Trail in Suing for Immediate Recognition of Workers’ First Amendment Rights

Aug 02, 2018

The Buckeye Institute is First Organization in the Country to File Lawsuits Calling on Courts to End Compelled Exclusive Representation by Unions After Janus v. AFSCME Ruling

Columbus, OH – Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision, The Buckeye Institute filed two separate lawsuits and corresponding preliminary injunctions calling for an immediate end to the laws that force public-sector employees to accept their union’s representation.

Both cases question the constitutionality of compelled “exclusive representation” and have been filed respectively in the 1) United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on June 27 (with a preliminary injunction filed on July 23) and in the 2) United States District Court for the District of Minnesota on July 6 (with a preliminary injunction filed on July 31).

“The Janus decision was an important victory for hardworking public servants across the country, but many of these same employees are still forced to accept their union’s representation that they didn’t ask for and do not want,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute and a lead attorney for both plaintiffs. “The two cases The Buckeye Institute has filed call on the courts to immediately end compelled ‘exclusive representation.’ These capable public servants have the right to speak for themselves and should be released from forced association with unions and advocacy with which they disagree.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME recognized that it is a violation of government employees’ First Amendment rights to force them to pay fees to government unions, which then speak on behalf of these employees. The Buckeye Institute’s two lawsuits call upon the courts to recognize public employees’ First Amendment right to free association and to end the forced exclusive representation.

The Buckeye Institute filed cases on behalf of the following plaintiffs:

Jade Thompson is a Spanish teacher in Ohio. Her union—the Marietta Education Association (MEA)—bargains for numerous policies with which she disagrees, including advocating for positions that resulted in cutting academic programs rather than allowing a reduction in fringe benefits, negotiating the exclusion of teachers who are not union members from key committees, and requiring seniority to be the sole substantive criteria in layoffs to the exclusion of any merit factors, leading to the absurd result that any ties in seniority must be resolved via coin-flip, even if the tie is between a teacher-of-the-year and a low-performing teacher.

Kathy Uradnik is a professor of political science at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Her union—the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO)—created a system that discriminates against non-union faculty members by barring them from serving on any faculty search, service, or governance committee, and even bars them from joining the Faculty Senate. This second-class treatment of non-union faculty members impairs their ability to obtain tenure, to advance in their careers, and to participate in the academic life and governance of their institutions.

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