Building on 2018 Janus decision, Ohio educator argues government-imposed union boss monopoly representation violates teachers’ First Amendment rights
Washington, DC (February 25, 2021) – Today the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation submitted an amicus curie brief to the United States Supreme Court urging the High Court to take up the case of Thompson v. Marietta Education Association. The case seeks a ruling that government-imposed monopoly union “representation” for bargaining with the government violates the rights of public sector employees.
The Foundation’s amicus brief was filed by William Messenger, the veteran staff attorney who successfully argued the Janus case before the Supreme Court. It argues that designating an organization to speak for an individual without their consent violates their First Amendment rights.
The case was filed by the Buckeye Institute, based in Columbus, Ohio for a Spanish teacher in Marietta, Ohio who chose not to join the Marietta Education Association (MEA).
Thanks to the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME case, teachers and other public employees cannot be required to pay dues or fees to unions with which they disagree. However, teachers are still forced by Ohio law to accept union bosses as their “representatives” when dealing with their employers.
Because MEA union officials are the monopoly bargaining agent and set the terms and conditions of employment for all teachers, even those teachers who oppose the union’s so-called representation and believe they would be better off without it. Teacher union officials regularly use this power to oppose merit-based pay increases and instead enforce strict seniority that results in the most recently hired teachers being terminated first irrespective of the effectiveness of their teaching or of the difficulty of finding qualified teachers for the subjects they teach.
Despite claiming to “represent” all teachers, union officials often make political statements with which many disagree. In this case, the plaintiff Jade Thompson was shocked when her so-called “representatives” attacked her husband during his campaign to become an Ohio state representative. At the time, prior to the Janus decision, Thompson was still forced to pay union dues to keep her job.
The Right to Work Foundation’s brief points out that the Supreme Court held in Janus that monopoly representation was “a significant impingement on associational freedoms.” Further, the amicus brief notes that if the Court declines to scrutinize government-imposed union monopoly representation, there is potentially no limit to the lawmaker’s ability to decide who speaks for someone when they deal with the government.
Those limits have already been tested, the brief points out, as state governments have tried to extend exclusive representation beyond government employees. Several states notoriously designated home healthcare providers, parents who are paid by Medicaid to care for their children, as public employees subject to union representation.
“Forcing individuals to accept union boss representation against their will is at the core of all of Big Labor’s coercive powers,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Supreme Court should take up Mrs. Thompson’s case and acknowledge that government-appointed representation is compatible with neither First Amendment freedom of association nor its own ruling in Janus.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.