Federal appeals court rejects “right to work” challenge to union security provision of Railway labor act.

On July 11, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a judgment in favor of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) in a case that challenged the constitutionality of the union security provision of the Railway Labor Act.  See Serna, et al. v. Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, Case No. 15-10328.  Under the RLA’s union security provision, collective bargaining agreements may require all represented employees, whether members of the union or not, to pay their appropriate share of the costs of union representation as a condition of continued employment.  In Serna, a class action suit financed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, plaintiffs claimed that TWU violated the constitutional rights of those employees it represented who chose not to be members of the union, by requiring them to pay their share of union expenses related to negotiating and administering labor contracts.  The suit also claimed, in the alternative, that TWU violated the rights of non-member employees by requiring those who objected to paying for union expenses not germane to collective bargaining to file an objection with the union.  In March 2015, a federal district court in Texas granted TWU summary judgment, rejecting both claims.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed that ruling.

Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP partners Michael Winston, Peter DeChiara and Josh Ellison worked on the case on behalf of TWU.  Peter DeChiara argued the case in the appeals court.

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