Last month, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal challenging the ability of public sector unions to serve as the exclusive bargaining representative of public employees.
The case Thompson v. Marietta Education Association(U.S., June 7, 2021, No. 20-1019) 2021 WL 2301972, was brought by Jade Thompson— a teacher at a public high school who was not a member of the union. She filed a lawsuit claiming that the Ohio law that permitted the union to act as the exclusive bargaining representative for all teachers violated her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, association, and petition. Both the district court and the Sixth Circuit ruled against Thompson holding that the Supreme Court’s 1984 decision in Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight (1984) 465 U.S. 271, which upheld the legality of these collective bargaining systems, controlled the outcome in Thompson’s case. Thompson appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing in her petition that the Court should overturn Knight in light of their 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME (2018) 138 S.Ct. 2448, which held that government employees can opt out of paying union fees to cover collective bargaining.
Without comment, the Supreme Court declined to hear her petition and passed on the opportunity to extend their ruling in Janus. The appeal was one of the first to test the Court’s willingness to address labor issues since the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.