The Buckeye Institute Files Third Lawsuit Demanding Recognition of Public-Sector Workers’ First Amendment Rights

Aug 27, 2018

Building on Two Previous Lawsuits Filed in Minnesota and Ohio Federal District Courts, Buckeye Files Its Third Lawsuit Calling for an End to Compelled Exclusive Representation

Columbus, OH – On the heels of its two previous lawsuits filed in federal district courts in Minnesota and Ohio following the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision, The Buckeye Institute filed its third lawsuit and corresponding preliminary injunction in Maine calling for an immediate end to laws that compel public-sector employees who have refused to join a union to accept forced union representation.

The three lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of compelled exclusive representation, in which a government agency appoints a representative to speak on behalf of employees, in their names. The most recent case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maine on August 10 (with a preliminary injunction motion filed on August 16) on behalf of Jonathan Reisman, an associate professor of economics at the University of Maine at Machias who served as the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine’s grievance officer.

“As his local union’s grievance officer, Mr. Reisman understood and greatly valued the role of his local union. But he could accept neither being forced to support a national and state union that advocated for a partisan agenda with which he disagreed nor having a union advocate for that agenda in his name, as his appointed representative,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute and an attorney on the case. “In filing this lawsuit, and others like it across the country, The Buckeye Institute is calling for an end to the unconstitutional, un-American, and unfair practice of compelled ‘exclusive representation.’ It is long past time to recognize that public employees have the same right to speak for themselves that everyone else has.”

The Buckeye Institute recently won a victory on Professor Reisman’s behalf when his union complied with the Janus v. AFSCME decision and granted Reisman’s demand to immediately cancel his union membership, and—accordingly—ceased withholding union dues without requiring him to wait until his designated opt-out window opened, which would have been unlawful under Janus v. AFSCME.

The Supreme Court’s Janus decision recognized that it is a violation of public employees’ First Amendment rights to force them to pay fees to government unions and The Buckeye Institute’s lawsuit calls upon the courts to also recognize these same employees’ First Amendment right to free association and speech by ending forced exclusive representation.

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