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In Lawsuit Brought by UE—

Court Strikes Down
Ohio Picketing Law


Legal in Ohio...
District 7 Council delegates join with Local 791 members for a demonstration last fall in support of part-time toll collectors. A picket line in 1993 in support of the part-timers led to the recent court decision.

The Ohio Court of Appeals for the Eighth District on May 7 struck down as unconstitutional two provisions of the law governing public sector labor relations in a case brought by UE against the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

The state Appeals Court invalidated the sections of the Ohio Revised Code that make it an unfair labor practice for public employees to picket the residence or private employment of a public official and require 10 days written notice of picketing be given to the public employer and to the State Employment Relations Board (SERB).

As a result of this decision, the requirement of notice prior to any "picketing, striking or other concerted refusal to work" is struck down.

The case arose from UE’s successful effort to organize part-time Ohio Turnpike employees; full-time toll collectors and maintenance workers already belonged to UE Local 791, United Turnpike Workers. The union filed a representation petition with SERB on Sept. 1, 1992.

The Ohio Turnpike Commission held up the election, first by claiming that part-timers were "seasonal" and "casual" employees, then by challenging a SERB hearing officer’s recommendation that the agency direct an election.

On May 10, 1993, UE members protested the Turnpike Commission’s delaying tactics with a picket line set up outside the home of Alan V. Johnson, the Commission’s executive director. Workers carried signs reading, "Democracy is the American Way... Let Us Vote!" and "Free the Part-Timers!"

On May 17, SERB found in favor of the union. UE eventually won a March 1-2, 1994 representation election.

In response to the union protest, the Turnpike Commission filed an unfair labor practice charge with SERB, alleging that UE violated state law by picketing the private residence of an employer and by failing to provide the employer and SERB with 10 days’ written notice. Both SERB and a trial court upheld the Commission.

In striking down both provisions (parts [7] and [8] of R.C. 4117.11 [B]) the Appeals Court found them to be overly narrow abridgements of free expression, applied only to labor picketing.

"This decision by the state Appeals Court is a victory not only for Ohio Turnpike workers, but for all workers who are covered by the Public Employment Collective Bargaining Act," declared Sherri Nelson, president of UE Local 791/UTW.

"SERB is running rampant with bad decisions, so it is great to see a union win a victory against the state. This really does strengthen us and all unions."

Joyce Goldstein of the Cleveland-based firm Goldstein and Roloff represented UE before the Appeals Court.

UE News - 05/98

Home -> UE News -> 1998 Archives -> Article

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