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Yankee Joins SEBAC v Rowland Case

The Yankee Institute has filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in the SEBAC v Rowland case.

The Connecticut Attorney General’s office and attorneys for former Gov. John Rowland and former Office of Policy and Management Secretary Marc Ryan have petitioned the nation’s highest court for a writ of certiori, which means they are asking the court to accept the case for review. The Yankee Institute has filed an amicus brief supporting their petition.

The case stems from layoffs of some 2,800 unionized state employees made by the Rowland administration in 2002 to address a budget crisis. The state employees, acting through the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC), sued, claiming the layoffs were motivated not by fiscal imperative but by supposed anti-union bias on the part of the Rowland Administration.

In 2011, the U.S. District Court in Connecticut granted summary judgment in favor of Rowland and Ryan, concluding they acted legally. The unions appealed and in May 2013, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (NY, CT, VT) reversed the lower court ruling. Now the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, representing Rowland and Ryan in their official capacities, and Rowland and Ryan as individuals, are appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“If the Second Circuit’s decision stands, it will fundamentally alter the balance of power between management and labor in the public sector, tipping the field in favor of unions,” said Fergus Cullen, Executive Director of the Yankee Institute.

“This case is not about Gov. Rowland. It affects any chief executive in the public sector: governors, mayors, first selectmen, county executives, superintendents, school boards – anyone who manages public budgets and unionized public employees. No longer will a chief executive be able to lay off unionized public employees, even in accordance with negotiated contracts, because affected workers will be able to claim the layoffs were triggered by anti-union bias. Hiring unionized public workers will mean, in effect, hiring them for life.”

“Holding elected officials personally liable for the legal actions and policy decisions
voters elected them to make will discourage people from serving in public office. This
case has dragged out for more than a decade and has cost more than a million dollars to defend. How many people will decline to get involved in serving their communities if they face that sort of potentially ruinous personal financial liability?” Cullen said.

The petition to the court is available online here.

Yankee’s brief is available here.

The Yankee Institute mailer to our members on the issue is here.

Yankee Staff

Yankee Institute is a 501(c)(3) research and citizen education organization that does not accept government funding. Yankee Institute develops and advances free-market, limited-government solutions in Connecticut. As one of America’s oldest state-based think tanks, Yankee is a leading advocate for smart, limited government; fairness for taxpayers; and an open road to opportunity.

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