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Ohio Supreme
Court Backs Union

CLEVELAND, Ohio

The right of public employees in Ohio to strike and picket is strengthened by last month’s refusal by the Ohio Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a decision earlier this year in favor of UE. Public employees are no longer required to give notice of their intent to strike or picket.

"This ruling means that public-sector union members in Ohio can now exercise their democratic rights without unfair delays and restrictions," said UE Local 791,UTW Pres. Sherri Nelson. "We consider this a victory for all working people, and for free speech."

The Ohio Court of Appeals for the Eighth District on May 7 struck down as unconstitutional two provisions of the state’s public-sector labor relations law in a case brought by UE against the Ohio Turnpike Commission. The court invalidated sections of state law that made it an unfair labor practice for public employees to picket the residence or private employment of a public official and required 10 days written notice of picketing.

On Oct. 13 the state Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) that sought to reinstate only the 10-day notice requirement.

The case arose from UE’s successful effort to organize part-time Ohio Turnpike workers; full-time toll collectors and maintenance workers already belonged to Local 791. The union filed for an election with SERB on Sept. 1, 1992. The Ohio Turnpike Commission blocked the election with legal maneuvers, however.

In May 1993, UE members protested the Turnpike Commission’s delaying tactics with a picket line outside the home of Alan Johnson, the Commission’s executive director. The Turnpike Commission filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union, alleging 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. But the Appeals Court agreed with UE that both provisions of the state law were unconstitutional violations of free expression.

Part-time turnpike workers won their March 1994 representation election. They have been working without a contract since July 1997, largely as a result of the Turnpike Commission’s refusal to agree to give part-timers the opportunity to bid on job openings for full-time collector positions.

Local 791 will soon begin negotiations for a new contract covering 600 maintenance workers and full-time toll collectors. UE leaders say the union intends to resolve the part-time contract during negotiations for the full-timers’ agreement.

Joyce Goldstein of the Cleveland-based firm Goldstein and Roloff represented UE in this case.

UE News - 11/98


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

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