Eighth Circuit issues opinions in two consolidated public sector union cases – Ballotpedia News

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Eighth Circuit issues opinions in two consolidated public sector union cases

On July 25, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the rulings of US District Judge Susan Richard Nelson in four lawsuits filed against Minnesota public sector unions. The lawsuits have been consolidated into two cases. In each case, the plaintiffs sought damages for expenses deducted from the pay of non-union employees as a condition of employment, and Nelson ruled in favor of the unions.

About Cases

Hoekman v. Minnesota Education (21-1366, 21-2675)

  • Class Action Complaint filed on June 18, 2018.
  • Amended Class Action Complaint filed on October 1, 2018.
  • Plaintiffs: Public school employees Linda Hoekman, Mary Dee Buros and Paul Hanson.
  • Defendants: Education Minnesota, Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
  • Nelson ruled in favor of trade unions on February 12, 2021.
  • Plaintiffs appealed to the Eighth Circuit on February 17, 2021.
  • Argument held on February 16, 2022.
  • The eighth circuit panel affirmed Nelson judgment of July 25, 2022.

Piekarsky c. AFSCME Council 5 (21-1372, 21-2687)

  • Class Action Complaint filed on August 14, 2018.
  • Amended Class Action Complaint filed on April 1, 2019.
  • Complainant: Thomas Piekarski, employee of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
  • Defendant: Council of the AFSCME 5.
  • Nelson ruled in favor of trade unions on February 12, 2021.
  • Plaintiffs appealed to the Eighth Circuit on February 17, 2021.
  • Argument held on February 16, 2022.
  • The eighth circuit panel affirmed Nelson judgment of July 25, 2022.

Brown v. AFSCME Council 5 (21-1640)

  • Class Action Complaint filed May 8, 2020.
  • Plaintiffs: Eric Brown, Jody Tuchtenhagen and Debbie Schultz, Minnesota State employees.
  • Defendant: Council of the AFSCME 5.
  • Nelson fired the case on February 12, 2021.
  • The plaintiffs appealed to the Eighth Circuit on March 19, 2021.
  • Argument held on February 16, 2022.
  • The eighth circuit panel affirmed Nelson judgment of July 25, 2022.

Fellows v. Professional Employees Association of Minnesota (21-1684)

  • Class Action Complaint filed May 8, 2020.
  • Plaintiffs: Mark Fellows, Alicia Bonner and Catherine Wyatt, Minnesota State employees.
  • Defendant: Association of Professional Employees of Minnesota.
  • Nelson fired the case on February 12, 2021.
  • The plaintiffs appealed to the Eighth Circuit on March 25, 2021.
  • Argument held on February 16, 2022.
  • The eighth circuit panel affirmed Nelson judgment of July 25, 2022.

What the court decided

US Circuit Judges James Loken, Steven Colloton and Bobby Shepherd formed the panel that reviewed the cases.

Hoekman and Piekarsky

Colloton wrote the opinion. The clerk’s summary of the court’s decision in Hoekman and Piekarsky said:

“In these cases, Minnesota state employees sued the unions for monetary relief based on the amount of so-called “fair share” fees that had been deducted from their paychecks for the benefit of the unions. … The district court granted summary judgment for the unions and the plaintiffs appealed. … [P]Public sector unions are entitled to a good faith defense of liability under section 1983 if they relied on then-current law to collect fair shares from a non-union employee before Janus not be decided. … Plaintiffs Buros and Piekarski’s claims fail because the unions were private actors and did not act under the guise of state law; the District Court did not err in awarding certain legal costs to the unions; unions were not required to move to dismiss the case, thereby reducing potential costs, rather than waiting and filing motions for summary judgment.

Brown and Comrades

Colloton also wrote the opinion in this case. The clerk’s summary of the court’s decision in Brown and Comrades said:

“In these cases, current and former Minnesota state employees sought damages under Section 1983 for money deducted from their wages by the unions that represented their local bargaining unit. The district court held that the unions were entitled to a defense to liability under Section 1983 because they acted in good faith in reliance on existing state law and court precedent. … A plaintiff who sues a private defendant on the basis of the defendant’s use of a state law that has been declared unconstitutional must show that the defendant did not act in good faith in relying on that law ; here, the plaintiffs do not allege that the unions subjectively believed that they violated the rights of the employees by collecting the dues, so the court need not determine whether such a demonstration would eliminate the unions’ objectively reasonable reliance on the law in question; because the unions collected the fair share fee under Minn. Stat. Second. 179A.06 at a time when the procedure used had been found constitutional by the Supreme Court, their use of the law was objectively reasonable and they were entitled to a good faith defence. »

President George HW Bush (right) nominated Loken to the court and President George W. Bush (right) nominated Colloton and Shepherd.

About the Eighth Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit hears appeals from the district courts of Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The chief justice of the court is Lavenski Smith, appointed by George W. Bush. Of the court’s 11 active judges, George HW Bush has appointed one, George W. Bush has appointed five, President Barack Obama (D) has appointed one, and President Donald Trump (R) has appointed four.

During the 12-month reporting period ending March 31, 3,020 appeals were filed in the Eighth Circuit. Six other appellate courts saw more cases filed during this period. The Ninth Circuit had the most, with 9,018 appeals filed.

What we read

The big picture

Number of relsevant bills by state

We are currently monitoring 149 pieces of legislation dealing with trade union policy for public sector employees. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates more relevant invoices. Click on here for a full list of all invoices we track.

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills according to the partisan status of the sponsor(s)

Recent legislative actions

Below is a comprehensive list of relevant legislative action taken since our last issue.

  • California AB189: This appropriation bill includes an ongoing proposal for the creation of a tax credit for union dues.
    • Presented by the Assembly’s Budget Committee.
    • Referred to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on August 1.
  • California AB1577: This bill would allow state legislative employees to organize and bargain collectively.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on August 1. Sent to the holding file on August 2. (Bills reaching a certain annual cost threshold are sent to the holding file for further consideration at a later hearing.)
  • California AB1714: This bill would allow unions representing excluded government employees to seek arbitration from the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on August 1. Sent to a holding file on August 2.
  • California AB2556: This bill would change the amount of time a local public agency employer has to implement a final offer after an investigators recommendation is made in the event of a dispute between the employer and the employee organization.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for August 8.
  • California SB931: This bill would allow a union to file a lawsuit with the Public Employment Relations Board against a public employer allegedly in violation of California Government Code Section 3550 and impose civil penalties for violations. Section 3550 prohibits public employers from discouraging union membership.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing on August 3. Sent to a pending folder.
  • California SB1313: This bill would prohibit Los Angeles County from discriminating against union members by limiting employee health benefits.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing on August 3. Sent to a pending folder.
  • California SB1406: This bill would allow unions representing excluded government employees to seek arbitration from the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing on August 3. Sent to a pending folder.

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