Supreme Court Asked if Unions Can Represent Nonmembers

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By Jon Steingart

A conservative advocacy group wants the U.S. Supreme Court to review lower court rulings that have upheld public sector unions’ authority to act on behalf of nonmembers.

The Dec. 4 petition comes one day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a lower court order in favor of exclusive representation.

The appeals court rejected the Buckeye Institute’s contention it was likely to succeed with its argument that forcing public sector workers to submit to union representation is a form of compelled speech that violates the First Amendment.

The free-market group’s argument relies on the Supreme Court’s June decision in Janus v. AFSCME. The court held that public sector workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and free association are violated when nonmembers are required to pay fees to a union that bargains on behalf of members and nonmembers alike.

The Columbus, Ohio-based group is still litigating its case in the lower court on behalf of Kathleen Uradnik, a political science professor at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., who challenges the Inter Faculty Organization’s right to exclusive representation.

Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota has stayed the case while the appeal proceeds.

Baker & Hostetler LLP is Uradnik’s counsel of record in the Supreme Court.

The case is Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Org., U.S., No. not available, petition for certiorari 12/4/18.

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