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Reisman v. Associated Faculties of University of Maine

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

October 4, 2019

JONATHAN REISMAN, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
ASSOCIATED FACULTIES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MAINE; UNIVERSITY OF MAINE AT MACHIAS; BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MAINE; and THE STATE OF MAINE, Defendants, Appellees.

          APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE [Hon. Jon D. Levy, U.S. District Judge]

          Andrew M. Grossman, with whom Richard B. Raile, Renee M. Knudsen, BakerHostetler LLP, Robert Alt, Daniel Dew, and The Buckeye Institute were on brief, for appellant.

          Jacob Karabell, with whom John M. West, Bredhoff & Kaiser, P.L.L.C., Jason Walta, and National Education Association were on brief, for appellee Associated Faculties of the University of Maine.

          Linda D. McGill, with whom Tara A. Walker and Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, P.A. were on brief, for appellees University of Maine at Machias and Board of Trustees of the University of Maine.

          Susan P. Herman, Deputy Attorney General, with whom Aaron M. Frey, Attorney General, and Christopher C. Taub, Assistant Attorney General, were on brief, for appellee State of Maine.

          Before Thompson, Selya, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          BARRON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Jonathan Reisman, an economics professor at the University of Maine at Machias, seeks to invalidate a Maine statute that governs collective bargaining between the state's university system and its faculty on the ground that the statute violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The District Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. We affirm.

         I.

         The Maine statute that Reisman challenges is the University of Maine System Labor Relations Act, Me. Stat. tit. 26, §§ 1021-1037. Enacted in 1975, the statute is modeled on the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 151-169, and extends collective bargaining rights to employees of the state's universities.

         The statute divides university employees into various "bargaining units" based on their occupational groups. See tit. 26, § 1024-A. The faculty in the university system make up one particular bargaining unit, while "[s]ervice and maintenance" employees, for example, constitute another. Id.

         To facilitate labor negotiations, the statute provides, among other things, that a union that receives majority support within "a bargaining unit shall be recognized by the university, academy or community colleges as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for all of the employees in the bargaining unit." Id. § 1025(2)(B). Once so recognized, that union is the bargaining unit's exclusive agent to bargain with the university system "with respect to wages, hours, working conditions and contract grievance arbitration." Id. § 1026(1)(C).

         No employee bears an obligation to join a union, see id. § 1023, and, after Janus v. American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees, Council 31, 138 S.Ct. 2448 (2018), nonmember employees are not obliged to pay agency fees to the union that serves as their bargaining unit's bargaining agent. However, the statute does provide that the bargaining agent "is required to represent all . . . employees within the unit without regard to membership in the organization." tit. 26, § 1025(2)(E).

         The Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine ("AFUM" or "the Union") has represented the faculty bargaining unit for Reisman's university since 1978. Reisman "resigned his membership in [AFUM] because he opposes many of the positions [AFUM] has taken, including on political and ...


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