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Thompson v. Marietta Educ. Ass'n

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

August 5, 2020, Argued; August 25, 2020, Decided; August 25, 2020, Filed

File Name: 20a0277p.06

No. 19-4217


 [**2]  THAPAR, Circuit Judge. By signing on the dotted line, public employees accept the government as their employer. In Ohio, the law requires them to also accept a union as their exclusive [*2]  bargaining representative. It's a take-it-or-leave-it system—either agree to exclusive representation, which is codified in state law, or find a different job. This take-it-or-leave-it system is in direct conflict with the principles enunciated in Janus v. AFSCME, 138 S. Ct. 2448, 201 L. Ed. 2d 924 (2018). But when the Supreme Court decided Janus, it left on the books Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight, 465 U.S. 271, 104 S. Ct. 1058, 79 L. Ed. 2d 299 (1984). And because Knight directly controls the outcome of this case, we affirm the district court's decision upholding the challenged Ohio law.

Marietta is a small town in southeast Ohio that sits on the banks of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. The Marietta Board of Education governs the town's public schools. And the Marietta Education Association, a teacher's union, serves as the exclusive bargaining representative for the school district's employees.

Jade Thompson is a Spanish teacher at Marietta High School. After the Supreme Court's decision in Janus, Thompson sued the Marietta Education Association and the Marietta Board of Education, arguing that Ohio's scheme of exclusive public-sector union representation violates the First Amendment.

] Under Ohio law, a union may become the exclusive bargaining representative for all public employees in a bargaining unit. To become an exclusive representative, [*3]  the union must submit proof that a majority of the bargaining unit's members wish to be represented by the union. Ohio Rev. Code § 4117.05(A)(1). Once a union has done so, public employers are required to collectively bargain with it. Id. § 4117.04. And they are prohibited from bargaining with anyone else. Id. This includes both individual employees and other labor organizations.

 [**3]  ] Ohio law sets a broad scope for collective-bargaining negotiations. Public employers must bargain over "[a]ll matters pertaining to wages, hours, or terms and other conditions of employment" as well as over any "existing provision of a collective bargaining agreement." Id. § 4117.08(A). And public employers may bargain over almost all other topics. Id. § 4117.08(C). This latter category includes "the functions and programs of the public employer"; the employer's "overall budget" and "organizational structure"; the methods "by which governmental operations are to be conducted"; and even "the mission of the public employer as a governmental unit." Id.

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2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 26989 *; 2020 FED App. 0277P (6th Cir.) **


Prior History:  [*1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Columbus. No. 2:18-cv-00628—Michael H. Watson, District Judge.

Thompson v. Marietta Educ. Ass'n, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206804 (S.D. Ohio, Nov. 26, 2019)



Labor & Employment Law, Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations, Bargaining Units, Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Duty to Bargain, Governments, Local Governments, Employees & Officials, Unfair Labor Practices, Employer Violations, Interference With Protected Activities, Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Speech, Political Speech, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Scope