With an eye toward reinforcing the outcomes of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME and protecting workers’ rights, the Liberty Justice Center has filed a new federal lawsuit on behalf of Massachusetts law professor Richard J. Peltz-Steele.
Steele is fighting his state’s outdated and unconstitutional mandate that his teachers union maintain “exclusive representation” of him in salary negotiations, grievance procedures and other matters — whether or not he is a member.
Peltz-Steele is a Chancellor Professor at the University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth, where he teaches torts and media-related topics. While he is a member of the bargaining unit represented by the UMass Faculty Federation, he is not a member of the union. Peltz-Steele is fighting Massachusetts’ illegal mandate that the faculty union can exclusively represent him in all in salary negotiations, grievance procedures and other matters.
Financial losses to the university during the COVID-19 crisis led to an employee-wide salary cut in 2020. The cut initially proposed by the university was 5% across the board. However, the union demanded a “progressive” structure that created different pay cuts depending on salary level. Ultimately, the established formula shaved 12% off Peltz-Steele’s pay for the year.
In October 2020, Peltz-Steele contacted the Dean of the Law School to inquire about filing a grievance, only to be told that the union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement essentially barred him from doing so without the union’s approval.
Defendants in the suit include the union, UMass Faculty Federation, Local 1895 American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO; University President Martin Meehan; Marjorie Wittner, Kelly Strong and Joan Ackerstein, members of the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board; and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.