Lawyers for The Buckeye Institute made oral arguments to put an end to forced exclusive public-sector union representation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. The institute is representing a University of Maine associate professor.
Exclusive representation is a policy held by many public sector unions that allows the union to negotiate contracts everyone in a work unit, including non-union members. These non-union members are prohibited from opting out of this representation and negotiating their own contracts.
Lawyers for The Buckeye Institute, a free-market think tank based in Ohio, made their arguments against this practice based on precedent set in the landmark right-to-work case, Janus V. AFSCME. In that decision, the U.S Supreme Court ruled that forcing non-union members to pay a fee to the union for their fair share of forced collective bargaining violated a worker’s First Amendment rights. Without making an actual ruling on exclusive representation, the decision stated that the practice restricts individual rights.
"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," Robert Alt, lead attorney and president of The Buckeye Institute, said in a news release.
"On Thursday,” Alt said, “The Buckeye Institute asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals to end this unconstitutional practice and recognize Professor [Jonathan] Reisman's First Amendment rights."
The lawyers are defending Reisman against the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine. Reisman, an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias, broke off from the union because of political disagreements with its national affiliates.
The Associated Faculties of the University of Maine did not return requests for comment.