Public unions claimed that the Governor of Connecticut ran roughshod over their members' first amendment right to . . . join a union. They alleged that the Constitution State's chief executive used budget cuts and state-wide layoffs in 2003 as cover for firing 2,800 workers solely because they belonged to unions that refused to accept contract terms the state had offered.
The district court accepted the state's argument that it did not impinge on the employees' first amendment right of free association.
Today, the Second Circuit reversed. Citing "the well-established principle that union activity is protected by the First Amendment" and comparing the case to ones involving "political patronage", the panel ordered the district court to grant summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition v. Rowland, No. 11-3061-cv, slip op. at 13 (2d Cir. May 31, 2013).
The Republican party affiliation of the governor who presided over the layoffs, John Grosvenor Rowland, likely did not help the defendants. Not to mention his guilty plea in 2004 to charges of mail and tax fraud.