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SCOTUS Should Rein in Rogue Federal Labor Board in Ohio National Guard Case

Americans for Fair Treatment (AFFT) today filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Ohio Adjutant General’s Department v. Federal Labor Relations Authority. This little-known case could rein in a rogue federal labor board that has dramatically expanded the definition of a federal agency and ignored public employees’ First Amendment rights—all to benefit public-sector union officials.

The case concerns the Ohio Adjutant General’s authority to determine Ohio National Guard technicians’ conditions of employment, including collective bargaining rights. In 2016, the Adjutant General announced that he would stop abiding by a two-year-expired collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that previously represented National Guard technicians. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) then ruled on the union’s behalf in an unfair labor practice charge, ordering the Adjutant General to reinstate the union and abide by the expired CBA.

In justifying its ruling, FLRA expanded its own jurisdiction by incorrectly claiming the Ohio Adjutant General is a federal agency unto himself, even though the Adjutant General is an Ohio state officer and is not an officer or employee of the federal government. As a result, the technicians could be thrust back into a union and forced to pay union dues if the Supreme Court does not act.

The FLRA’s power grab could lead to two significant consequences:

  1. The definition of a federal agency could drastically expand. If they employ federal employees, states, localities, territories, Indian tribes, universities, and nonprofits could be recognized as federal agencies and be forced to engage in collective bargaining.
  2. Employees’ First Amendment rights could be violated. Coerced unionization and forced union dues payments violate the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31 decision in 2018, which affirmed public employees’ right to choose whether or not to associate with or financially support a labor union.

In the amicus brief, AFFT argues that coerced union membership is unconstitutional. The brief explains that if Ohio National Guard technicians are forced to rejoin a union as the FLRA has ordered, the technicians will also be forced to pay union dues and maintain union membership likely for at least one year.

“Our members believe that no public employee should be forced to join or pay a union that does not represent their interests, beliefs, or values,” said Elisabeth Messenger, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Americans for Fair Treatment. “AFFT’s members stand in solidarity with Ohio National Guard technicians fighting for their constitutional rights. Our members encourage the Court to reverse the FLRA’s decision to force unionization on citizens who do not want to be unionized.”

Americans for Fair Treatment is a national nonprofit organization that educates public employees about their rights in a unionized workplace and connects these employees with all available resources to defend those rights. We offer a free membership program, networking opportunities, and professional development scholarships to support qualifying public employees. 

Americans for Fair Treatment

Americans for Fair Treatment is a free, membership, non-profit organization designed to help public sector workers exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of coercion from unions.