Court Backs Union
The right of public employees in Ohio to strike and picket is strengthened
by last months 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 states 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
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
The case arose from UEs 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 Commissions delaying
tactics with a picket line outside the home of Alan Johnson, the Commissions
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
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
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 Commissions 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.