The Buckeye Institute Calls on First Circuit Court of Appeals to End Forced Union Exclusive Representation

Jul 25, 2019

Columbus, OH – On Thursday, The Buckeye Institute appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, Massachusetts, for oral arguments in Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine, which calls for an immediate end to the laws that force public-sector employees to accept union representation.

“In its Janus decision, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote that designating a union ‘as the employees’ exclusive representative substantially restricts the rights of individual employees,’ indicating the court’s serious concerns about the constitutionality of forced exclusive representation,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute and a lead attorney on the case. “On Thursday, The Buckeye Institute asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals to end this unconstitutional practice and recognize Professor Reisman’s First Amendment rights.”

Jonathan Reisman’s case was filed on August 10, 2018, in the United States District Court for the District of Maine, with a preliminary injunction motion filed on August 16, 2018. The District Court dismissed the case on December 4, 2018, and The Buckeye Institute immediately filed its notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Thursday’s oral arguments focused on overturning the First Circuit’s 2016 D’Agostino v. Baker case in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.

“Despite resigning his union membership, Maine law has forced Professor Reisman to speak through a union with which he does not agree and of which he is not a member,” said Andrew M. Grossman, a partner at BakerHostetler in Washington, D.C., and counsel of record in Reisman v. AFUM. “Following the court’s landmark Janus ruling, it is clear that these laws are unconstitutional and they need to be overturned.”

Jonathan Reisman in the Portland Press Herald: “Maine law forces me to accept union misrepresentation”

Jonathan Reisman is an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias who served as the AFUM grievance officer for the Machias campus. While Professor Reisman would have liked to remain a member of his local union, if he did so, he would be forced to support the state and national unions with which AFUM affiliates—the Maine Education Association and the National Education Association—unions which hold opposing views to his on a wide range of political and public policy issues. As a result, he resigned his union membership, but under Maine law, Reisman had no alternative but to continue to accept AFUM’s representation.

The Buckeye Institute was the first organization in the country to file lawsuits calling on courts to end compelled exclusive representation following Janus, and the organization is representing Professor Jonathan Reisman in Maine, Professor Kathy Uradnik in Minnesota, and Jade Thompson in Ohio.

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