State law lets unions block workers from a say in workplace matters unless they waive their First Amendment rights and fund union political activities
Washington, D.C. (July 8, 2019) – Today, staff attorneys for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are submitting a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the US Supreme Court to hear Branch v. Commonwealth Employment Relations Board, in which four Massachusetts educators are challenging the application of the state’s monopoly bargaining law for its educational system.
The educators argue that the state law, which is manipulated by union bosses to block teachers who are not union members from voting or otherwise voicing their opinions in the determination of their own working conditions, results in depriving nonmember teachers of their First Amendment rights.
The four plaintiffs hail from the University of Massachusetts and the Hanover School Committee. All have rejected membership in the National Educators Association (NEA) and its local affiliates.
Although the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision guarantees that union fees and membership are strictly voluntary for all public sector workers, the policy in question unconstitutionally forces them to become full union members to be able to speak up about their work environment.
To have any say in their own work conditions, nonmembers like the four educators would have to waive their First Amendment rights under Janus and join the union, which means funding union political causes.
The lead plaintiff, Dr. Ben Branch, is a finance professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is a colleague of fellow plaintiff of Dr. Wm. Curtis Conner, who teaches chemistry there.
Plaintiff Dr. Andre Melcuk is Director of Departmental Information Technology at the Silvio O. Conte National Center for Polymer Research at the University. Dr. Melcuk was born in the Soviet Union and opposes the union based on his dislike of collectivist organizations.
Plaintiff Deborah Curran is a long-term teacher in the Hanover Public Schools system. The union officials who supposedly “represent” her attempted to invalidate her promotion to a position mentoring new teachers and pushed to have her investigated and suspended. She ultimately spent nearly $35,000 of her own money battling union officials just to protect her job.
The petition comes after the Massachusetts Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit in April.
“The Massachusetts Supreme Court’s refusal to apply the Janus ruling has left these educators facing a legally untenable situation: either they can avoid associating with a union with which they disagree and lose their voices in the workplace, or they can waive their Janus rights and have their money used for ideological causes they oppose,” commented National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “The state of Massachusetts is forcing these educators to fund state legislators’ union political allies if they want even the most limited participation in the government-created bargaining process that controls their conditions of employment.”
“Such schemes are effectively a modern version of Tammany Hall that should be a thing of the past, and it’s time for courts to acknowledge it,” added Mix.
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.