The Buckeye Institute Files First Amendment Case on Behalf of Ohio Guidance Counselor

Jan 28, 2021

Columbus, OH – On Thursday, The Buckeye Institute filed a complaint on behalf of Barbara Kolkowski, who objects to being forced to accept union representation and decisions made by union arbitrators in a contract dispute particularly given that she is not a member of said union. This case was filed in the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas.

“Even though Ms. Kolkowski is not a member of the union, she is being forced to have a union representative speak for her. This unlawful arrangement contravenes the well-established First Amendment rights of public-sector employees and plainly violates Ohio statute,” said Jay Carson, senior litigator with The Buckeye Institute’s Legal Center and Ms. Kolkowski’s lawyer. “Ohio’s collective bargaining statute guarantees certain rights to all public-sector employees, among which is the right to present grievances and to have them adjusted without the intervention of the union.”

Barbara Kolkowski is a high school guidance counselor in Ashtabula, Ohio. When a dispute arose regarding payment under a supplemental contract, Ms. Kolkowski pursued remedies through the contractual grievance process, and—as required by her district’s collective bargaining agreement—requested that the union submit her grievance to arbitration. Because she is not a member of the union, Ms. Kolkowski also requested that she be able to hire her own private attorney at her own expense in order to pursue her claim in the arbitration proceedings, rather than relying upon a representative chosen by the union of which she is not a member. The union refused her request and denied Ms. Kolkowski her right to associate with and speak through her own counsel.

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