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State Emp Bargaining Agent Coalition, Ind v. Rowland

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

May 31, 2013

State Emp Bargaining Agent Coalition, Ind & o/b/o all of its members, Connecticut Association of Prosecutors, Congress of CT Community Colleges, SEIU, AFLCIO, Judicial Marshals, Intl Brotherhood of Police Officers, Connecticut State University American Assoc. of University Professors, Protective Svc Coalition, IAFF, AFLCIO, National Assn of Govt Emp, AFLCIO, Connecticut State Employees Association, SEIU, AFL-CIO, Connecticut Employees Union Independent, SEIU, AFLCIO, District 1199, New England Health Care Employees Union, SEIU, AFL-CIO, Council 4, Amer Federation of State, County, Municipal Emp, AFL-CIO, Denise A. Bouffard, Ind & o/b/o all others similarly situated, Geneva M. Hedgecock, Ind & o/b/o all others similarly situated, Dennis P. Heffernan, Ind & o/b/o all others similarly situated, William D. Hill, Ind & o/b/o all others similarly situated, Marcelle Y. Pichanick, Ind & o/b/o all others similarly situated, American Federation of School Administrators, Local 61, AFLCIO, Connecticut State Police Union, Connecticut Federation of Education & Professors Employees AFT, AFL-CIO, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
John G. Rowland, I/O as Gov. of the State of Connecticut, Marc S. Ryan, I/O as Sec of Ofc of Policy & Managment of State of Connecticut, Defendants-Appellees . [*] University of Connecticut, American Association of University Professors, Plaintiff,

Argued: August 27, 2012

Plaintiffs-appellants appeal from a decision of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Alfred V. Covello, Judge) granting summary judgment for defendants and dismissing plaintiffs' federal constitutional law claims. We conclude that plaintiffs have made out a claim that defendants violated their First Amendment right to freedom of association by targeting union employees for firing based on their union membership. We therefore REVERSE the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants and REMAND to the district court with instructions to GRANT summary judgment to plaintiffs on their First Amendment claim and to craft appropriate equitable relief. We also REVERSE the district court's dismissal on the pleadings of plaintiffs' claims against defendants in their individual capacities and REMAND those claims for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

David S. Golub (Jonathan M. Levine, on the brief), Silver Golub & Teitell LLP, Stamford, Connecticut, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Daniel Joshua Klau (Bernard E. Jacques, on the brief), McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP, Hartford, Connecticut, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Raggi, Lynch and Chin, Circuit Judges.

Gerard E. Lynch, Circuit Judge

Plaintiffs-appellants, labor organizations and state employees, brought this action in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Alfred V. Covello, Judge), contending that defendants-appellees state officials violated their First Amendment right to freedom of association by discriminatorily laying off only union members when reducing the state's work force. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants in their official capacities based on a stipulated factual record and dismissed plaintiffs' claims; the court also dismissed plaintiffs' claims against defendants as individuals on the pleadings (defendants not having joined the stipulation in their individual capacities). We conclude that, on the stipulated facts, defendants violated plaintiffs' rights by targeting union employees for firing based on their union membership. We therefore REVERSE the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants and REMAND to the district court with instructions to GRANT summary judgment to plaintiffs on their First Amendment claim and to craft appropriate equitable relief. We also REVERSE the district court's dismissal on the pleadings of plaintiffs' claims against defendants in their individual capacities and REMAND those claims for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

BACKGROUND

I. Facts

The following facts are drawn from the parties' Joint Rule 56 Statement, in which defendants, in their official capacities, and plaintiffs stipulated to certain undisputed material facts.[1] Defendants did not stipulate to any of these facts in their individual capacities.

Plaintiff-appellant State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition ("SEBAC") is a coalition of thirteen state public employee unions representing approximately 40, 000 Connecticut state employees.[2] SEBAC has been designated by Connecticut's Board of Labor Relations as the exclusive bargaining agent for its constituent unions for the purpose of negotiating and entering into a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") covering certain terms of employment, including health care and pension benefits. In 1997, SEBAC entered into a long-term CBA with Connecticut covering all of its constituent unions. The constituent unions also had separate, union-specific CBAs that covered other terms of employment. All of those CBAs were in effect in November-December 2002 and were scheduled to be in effect for a period of years thereafter.

At all times relevant to the complaint, defendant-appellee John G. Rowland was Governor of Connecticut, and defendant-appellee Marc S. Ryan was Secretary of Connecticut's Office of Policy and Management. Rowland and Ryan ("defendants") are sued in both their official and individual capacities. Defendants had responsibility under Connecticut law for managing Connecticut's work force and negotiating CBAs with state employees.

In November 2002, defendants met with SEBAC and its constituent unions (together with the individual plaintiffs, "plaintiffs") and sought approximately $450 million in long-term concessions under plaintiffs' CBAs. At that time, the State of Connecticut employed approximately 50, 000 individuals. Approximately 37, 500 (75%) of these employees were members of SEBAC constituent unions, and approximately 12, 500 (25%) were not union members.[3] Defendants advised plaintiffs that unless they agreed to these concessions, defendants would fire approximately 3000 unionized state employees. Although all state employees receive the same health care and pension benefits, defendants "intentionally directed their demands for health care and pension concessions (and their corresponding threats of termination if the concessions were not granted) solely to state union employees." Joint Local Rule 56(a)1 & 2 Statement ¶ 44.

Plaintiffs did not agree to all of the proposed concessions, but instead offered alternative concessions.[4] In December 2002, defendants ordered the firing of approximately 2800 unionized state employees. These firings were effectuated in 2003 (the "2003 firings") and were limited to unionized state employees. No non-union workers were fired. While the fired employees were told that they were being laid off due to economic necessity caused by the state's fiscal year 2003 budget deficit, the firings in fact "had minimal effect" on the state's fiscal year 2003 expenses, [5] and "were ordered as a means of trying to compel the plaintiff unions to agree to the concessions ...


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