March 14, 2019 – Janus Update:
The National Law Journal reports on three new petitions filed recently with the U.S. Supreme Court, all bad for union members and all tied to the justices’ ruling last term against mandatory public-sector union fees.
According to the story, ”two of the petitions—filed by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Buckeye Institute—confront laws that require a union’s exclusive representation of public sector employees. In the third, also brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, non-union home care workers seek refunds of about $32 million for fees paid to the union.
Here’s a brief synopsis of each petition filed:
Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and lower courts are wrong that a 1984 high court decision—Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight—approved of a state’s appointment of a labor union as the exclusive representative of public sector employees, argues the petition. “The result of those decisions is to broadly sanction compelled representation of unwilling public employees and subsidy recipients like home healthcare workers, irrespective of their speech and associational interests. That result cannot be squared with this court’s First Amendment jurisprudence.”
The Eighth Circuit, which earlier had ruled in Bierman that Knight applied, affirmed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction after finding no likelihood of success on the merits.
Riffey v. Pritzker
The Seventh Circuit erred in affirming a district court decision that the plaintiffs failed to meet the requirements for approval of a class seeking refunds of union fees, according to the petition. “Here, Illinois deducted agency fees for SEIU from the proposed class of personal assistants’ wages without their affirmative consent,” according to the petition. “Under Harris (v. Quinn) and Janus, each unauthorized fee seizure inflicted a First Amendment injury. The victim’s subjective feelings about SEIU are immaterial to the First Amendment violation. The compensatory damages owed to each personal assistant in the putative class equals all fees seized from him or her, plus interest.”
The Seventh Circuit panel, in an opinion by Judge Diane Wood, wrote: “The assistants spurned the opportunity to suggest a narrower class in favor of a ‘go-for-broke’ strategy. In doing so, however, they overlooked the substantial deference we give to the district court’s decisions about predominance and manageability. The judge here came to a defensible—indeed, sensible—decision on these points.”
Bierman v. Walz
“Regimes of exclusive representation, like other mandatory expressive associations, are subject to a limiting constitutional principle: exacting First Amendment scrutiny,” Messenger wrote in the petition. “Whatever its merits in a public employment relationship, no compelling state interest justifies extending exclusive representation beyond that context to a citizen’s relationship with government regulators.”
The Eighth Circuit panel, led by Judge Steven Colloton, said in its ruling in August: “There is no meaningful distinction between this case and Knight. The current version of [state law] similarly allows the homecare providers to form their own advocacy groups independent of the exclusive representative, and it does not require any provider to join the union. According to Knight, therefore, the state has ‘in no way’ impinged on the providers’ right not to associate by recognizing an exclusive negotiating representative.”
Together, we have the will and the power to fight these threats and protect what is ours. When we all commit to our union, we can protect what’s ours and defend what we have earned.
Stand with VSEA, stand with your co-workers, stand proud to be union!
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