By Tyler Arnold | Watchdog.org
The Buckeye Institute appealed a case to the United States Supreme Court that could prohibit forced public sector union representation if successful.
If the court decides to hear the case, it could be one of the biggest union-related Supreme Court cases since the Janus decision earlier this year, which ruled unconstitutional the collection of union dues from nonmembers because it was a form of forced representation.
The Buckeye Institute is arguing in Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization that forcing nonunion members to be represented by public sector unions violates the First Amendment on the same grounds of forced association. Forced representation is the practice by which a public sector union negotiates contracts for nonunion members.
The Buckeye Institute is representing a professor at St. Cloud University in Minnesota against her union, the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO). Uradnik has claimed that despite having authority to negotiate her contracts, the IFO has not acted in her best interest. She has said that the union negotiates contracts that directly discriminate against nonunion members, such as barring such employees from joining the faculty senate and serving on faculty search, service or governance committee.
“After years of being forced to speak through a union that advocated against her interests, today Professor Uradnik spoke in her own voice, and asked the Supreme Court to protect her First Amendment rights,” Robert Alt, the president of the Buckeye Institute and lead attorney in the case, said in a news release.
“In its landmark Janus decision, the U.S. Supreme Court raised the question many of us had asked, namely if it violates the First Amendment to compel financial support for union advocacy, how on earth can states require these same public employees to speak through unions that many of them choose not to join?” he said. “In what could be another landmark case in labor law, The Buckeye Institute is extending the opportunity for the court to answer that question definitively.”
Brent Jeffers, the president of IFO, released a statement earlier this year when the lawsuit was initially filed blaming it on powerful forces seeking to destroy the labor movement.
“This lawsuit is part of a nationally coordinated strategy by powerful forces aiming to destroy collective bargaining,” the statement said.
“It is a direct attack on our shared values and collective voice. United, we are powerful advocates – and our solidarity threatens the national anti-labor organizations behind these attacks,” Jeffers continued. “Our members know that a strong faculty union is vital to the success of our students and communities. In the face of these attacks, we stand united and will continue our mission of providing an extraordinary education that is accessible and affordable for all.”
Uradnik’s case was initially filed on July 6 in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. After a preliminary injunction was denied on September 27, the Buckeye Institute appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The institute requested the circuit court deny the motion so that it could be sent immediately to the Supreme Court for a decision.