Ohio Organization Petitions Supreme Court to Hear Union Case of Minnesota Professor

An Ohio organization is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that could extend the court’s landmark Janus v. AFSCME decision that ruled against compelled financial support of unions.

The Buckeye Institute announced Tuesday that it filed the “first significant labor-law challenge” in the U.S. Supreme Court since its June 27 decision, asking the high court to hear the case of Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization. The case surrounds St. Cloud State University Professor Kathy Uradnik, who has been punished by the Minnesota institution’s union as a result of not being a member.

“Her union created a system that discriminates against non-union faculty members by barring them from serving on any faculty search, service, or governance committee, and even bars them from joining the Faculty Senate,” a Tuesday press release from The Buckeye Institute states, saying the “second-class treatment” prevents non-members from obtaining tenure and advancing their careers.

Uradnik’s case was first filed on July 6 in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, but a preliminary injunction motion filed later that month was denied. An appeal filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals was then denied, and now the case is being appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“In its landmark Janus decision, the U.S. Supreme Court raised the question many of us had asked, namely if it violates the First Amendment to compel financial support for union advocacy, how on earth can states require these same public employees to speak through unions that many of them choose not to join?” The Buckeye Institute President Robert Alt said Tuesday.

“In what could be another landmark case in labor law, The Buckeye Institute is extending the opportunity for the court to answer that question definitively,” he added.

Uradnik first wrote about her experiences with the Inter Faculty Organization in an August op-ed for The St. Cloud Times in which she said that for two decades she has been “forced to financially support” the union, “even though as a non-union member the [Inter Faculty Organization] doesn’t support” her in return.

“While the [Inter Faculty Organization] claims to be the ‘exclusive representative’ of my best interests, it undermines my ability to advance in my career and routinely interferes with my professional opportunities and relationships,” she wrote.

Uradnik expressed relief over the Janus v. AFSCME decision because she would “no longer have to pay for the privilege of being mistreated and misrepresented by the union.”

“The [Inter Faculty Organization] does not care about my strong interests in admissions, accreditation, strategic planning or curriculum building, nor has it ever shown concern for my professional resume or my desire to work in university administration,” she wrote. “The only thing that matters to the union is whether I ‘paid’ sufficiently for the ability to participate in the life of my university.”

Uradnik, who comes from a “blue-collar, union family,” said she did not make the decision lightly to challenge her union.

“After 20 years, enough is enough,” she concluded. “I am proud to team with The Buckeye Institute to argue that this discrimination and forced representation must end, this time in its entirety.”

The Buckeye Institute is currently representing Uradnik and two other professors in challenges to “compelled exclusive representation” by unions.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to anthony.gockowski@gmail.com.
Image “Kathy Uradnik” by The Buckeye Institute.




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