FILE - NY Syracuse 5-14-2018

The downtown skyline of Syracuse, New York.

(The Center Square) – A Syracuse community service officer has filed suit against the city and a labor union over its assertion that she must still be represented by the organization even after she resigned from it nearly a year ago.

Amber Welch sought to resign from The Civil Service Employees Association Inc. Local 1000 in September 2020. However, according to the complaint she filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, her resignation wasn’t accepted for another month.

In addition, she said labor leaders stated they would not represent her in certain proceedings tied to her employment.

Public-sector employees in states like New York, which does not have a statewide right-to-work law, benefited from a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, earning the right to resign from a union and not pay dues to it.

However, the Taylor Law, a New York state law that defines how public-sector unions operate, prohibits workers from choosing their own representative.

She claims that violates her First and 14th Amendment rights.

Welch “is being prevented from exercising her rights and privileges not to speak through, associate with, or petition through a private organization,” the complaint states.

The Fairness Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm, is representing Welch in the case.

Nathan McGrath, The Fairness Center’s president, said Welch deserves the right to choose who represents her.

“Ms. Welch has the right not to be compelled to associate with a union,” he said in a statement. “But she is being forced to accept a union as her exclusive representative for collective bargaining. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she is being threatened with second-class representation by the very union she must accept as her representative when it comes to negotiating her terms and conditions of employment.”

Neither the City of Syracuse nor CSEA Local 1000 have responded to the lawsuit, according to court records.