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U.S. Supreme Court Passes On Former Governor’s Petition

by Christine Stuart | Jan 21, 2014 12:32pm
(8) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Civil Liberties, Courts, Labor, Legal

Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons

They knew from the start that it was a long shot, but former Gov. John G. Rowland and Marc Rya, his former budget director, said it’s “unfortunate” that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear a petition regarding a decade-old labor dispute.

Rowland and Ryan had petitioned the court seeking a review of a unanimous decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals as it related to their decision back in 2003 to lay off 2,800 state employees. The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Friday not to take up the petition seeking a reversal of a Second Circuit Court decision.

Last June, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court found that the decision to terminate 2,800 state employees “violated their First Amendment right to freedom of association by targeting union employees for firing based on their union membership,” Judge Gerard Lynch wrote.

Rowland and Ryan are represented by Attorney Daniel Klau of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP of Hartford.

“It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court is not taking this case,” Rowland and Ryan said in a statement circulated by Klau. “It will have a profound impact on governors, mayors, boards of education, and taxpayers all across America.”

Through Klau, Rowland and Ryan, argued in the petition that the decision hobbled public sector chief executives during the collective bargaining process. Rowland and Ryan maintained in their statement Tuesday that before layoffs were even considered they “offered every union the chance to take a wage freeze in return for job security.”

An attorney for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition has said the situation the Second Circuit Court decided was very specific.

“The Second Circuit’s decision in plaintiffs’ favor was based on defendants’ stipulation that this is not a case in which work force layoffs were ordered to obtain the budgetary savings that the rejected concessions would have achieved,” David Golub, a SEBAC attorney, wrote in a Dec. 2 letter.

He said the layoffs Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed in 2011 and the ones proposed in 1991 were constitutional and would continue to be constitutional even under the Second Circuit Court’s decision in this case.

In their statement Tuesday, Rowland and Ryan also partially blamed the court’s decision not to hear the petition on the fact that the state had earlier withdrawn its own petition for a hearing.

“The state’s decision to pull out of the appeal clearly undermined the chances of the high court accepting the petition,” Rowland and Ryan wrote. “The Second Circuit’s decision was clearly misguided and public chief executives throughout the nation may now be faced with no power at the negotiating table.”

Attorney General George Jepsen decided in December to withdraw the petition because he felt it put the state in the best bargaining position to negotiate a settlement with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition.

Rowland and Ryan still want a federal trial court to dismiss the case “based on the undisputed fact that our actions complied with all relevant layoff provisions of the plaintiffs’ collective bargaining contracts.”

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals did not award any monetary damages.

In the meantime, Golub and Jepsen are trying to negotiate a settlement.

“We are committed to moving forward with settlement discussions, as we feel it is in the best interest of the state and its taxpayers,” Jaclyn M. Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen said Tuesday. “In the event that a settlement cannot be reached, we retain the right to seek Supreme Court review of the claims against the state.”

Falkowski said she didn’t believe the court’s decision to hear Rowland and Ryan’s individual capacity claims will impact a review by the court if the state decides to refile its petition in the future.

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(8) Comments

posted by: art vandelay | January 21, 2014  4:03pm

art vandelay

I’m just wondering if this decision allows to unions to sue for reinstatement & back wages.  If so it will put the state further in debt.

posted by: Christine Stuart | January 21, 2014  4:38pm

Christine Stuart

It does allow the unions to seek a settlement regarding back wages and other damages. The state does plan to set aside money for settlements, so I’m not sure this one blows it out of the water. Almost all returned to work.

posted by: art vandelay | January 21, 2014  8:10pm

art vandelay

Only in the Public Sector can this ever happen.

posted by: dano860 | January 22, 2014  9:59am

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
In 2012, the union membership rate—the percent of wage and salary workers who were
members of a union—was 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging
to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year. In 1983, the first year for
which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent,
and there were 17.7 million union workers.
As a Nation or a State we are going to be dancing to the tune of the minority again. 11-12% will be consuming more and more of our taxes. Time to get serious about using private contractors.

posted by: Wiley Coyote | January 22, 2014  11:46am

ART:  you are right only in Public Sector can the little guy fight a Political Bully abusing their powers.  The convicted felon lied again, no surprise and his budget director fled the state.  It still took years but justice prevailed.  Why HATE the union’s ALL the time. This is a perfect example of why Union’s are so important, to prevent or fight abuses of power by Politicians and management looking out for themselves not the employees.  Sure, there are Union Leaders who are prone to abuses, that is why it is important for people to be involved in all aspects of their lives.  Both in the Union and political arena.  We all have the same enemy, regardless of our political beliefs and that is APATHY.  This is the number one reason politicians, management and union Leaders behave the way they do. It is a sickness that has affected America for a long while now and allows for half-truths from all sides.

posted by: NoNonsense2014 | January 22, 2014  5:41pm

@Wiley Coyote: Nobody can ever accuse me of being a fan of Rowland. But in this one case, I do not believe he was a “political bully”. He asked the unions for concessions. They declined, and he laid people off (most temporarily). The reason that non-union workers were not laid off is because they DID make the same concessions Rowland was seeking from the unions. The non-union workers didn’t have the choice to “accept” concessions, and that’s why they were exempt from layoffs. I believe the Malloy administration has made a mistake to start settlement talks; they, like Rowland, should have taken the case to the US Supremes.

posted by: art vandelay | January 22, 2014  5:47pm

art vandelay

@Wiley Coyote,
I respectfully disagree. Unions be it private or public sector are parasites.  They attach themselves to a host and “suck them dry”.  They destroyed the automobile & maritime industries. Not one cruise ship has been built in this country and none are manned with American crews. Only the defense industry keeps shipbuilding in this country alive. GM needed a bailout & Chrysler was just sold to Fiat. Ford is only surviving due to major union concessions. The last remaining host where the parasitic unions are thriving is in government because of the endless supply of taxpayers money and their control of the Democratic Party.  Once voters realize what unions have done to their pocketbooks through tax hikes, then the tide will change.  I have no use for Unions or ever will.

posted by: Wiley Coyote | January 23, 2014  11:43am

@Art & Nononsense:  First of all Rowland was blinded by hatred of Unions and targeted Union only employees. That is fact. Had he laid off workers legally none of this would be relevant. He did not.

As for “parasitic” unions, how is it that private CEO’s are making more money than they ever have? They all have globs of money while destroying Americans Retirements and way of life.

Did the Unions crash America’s economy or di the greedy non union bankers and financial parasites?  Where were any of their “concessions or give backs”. I find it insane that the rich have so many fooled and we are left to fight among each other while they sit back and reap the rewards of not providing healthcare, pensions and decent wages.

What happened to the ‘70s when this was all possible?

Who lobbied and passed all these laws for tax loopholes, unions or the fat cats you are arguing for?