Two unions have asked a federal judge to reconsider his decision tossing their attempt to force the village of Lincolnshire to stop paying dues to the Illinois Municipal League because the association of Illinois cities and villages lobbies in favor of policies union members may oppose.
On Jan. 4, lawyers for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 and the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters filed a motion in Chicago federal court, asking U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey to allow them to amend their complaint, as the unions say new information has come to light in the month since the judgment which would affect the judge’s take on the case.
“Specifically, the amended complaint would add facts regarding the (Illinois Municipal League’s) status as a private organization, private involvement in the creation of the IML’s speech, and the IML’s involvement in conduct that would be unconstitutional if the IML were a public entity,” the unions asserted in their motion.
In early December, Judge Blakey dismissed the unions’ lawsuit against Lincolnshire and the IML.
In that action, the union plaintiffs said their First Amendment rights are violated when a municipality uses tax dollars to fund IML lobbying efforts that run counter to union objectives. The plaintiffs based their arguments on the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Janus v The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, in which the high court found mandatory union fees violate the speech rights of non-union workers forced to pay them, as the unions receiving the money may engage in political speech and activities the non-union workers may oppose.
The unions asserted their rights are similarly violated when local governments use tax dollars to promote political positions with which they disagree.
Lincolnshire and the IML countered by arguing they engage in government speech, which remains protected from First Amendment scrutiny.
Blakey agreed with the defendants, finding speech from the IML should be considered government speech because it lobbies on behalf of local government interests and is “effectively controlled by the government.”
Blakey said taxpayers upset with their municipality’s support of the IML “can express this opinion at the ballot box, or limit the conduct of elected officials by law, regulation or practice.”
He dismissed the unions’ constitutional claims with prejudice, and declined to exercise jurisdiction over two remaining state law claims.
In their new motion, the unions said they have continued with their investigation of the IML and its activities, and have accumulated evidence they say would demonstrate the IML is a private organization, or at least behaves as a private organization, and so, should not be afforded the protection granted to “government speech.”
Among other evidence, the unions say they have “uncovered additional facts” including: private sponsorships of the IML and its events; evidence the IML receives only one-third of its funding from the cities and villages it counts as it members; financial contributions made by the IML to private organizations, including the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and the American City County Exchange; contributions made by the IML to “religious organizations;” and responses by the IML to Freedom of Information Act requests in which it asserts it is a private organization exempt from the FOIA rules; corporations formed by the IML; and others.
“These facts prove that the IML is a private entity, thus Lincolnshire violated Union Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights when it compelled them to subsidize a private third party’s speech,” the unions wrote in their motion. “Similarly, if the IML a (sic) governmental association acting only at the discretion of its members, then Lincolnshire, through the IML, has violated Union Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rihts when it compelled them to subsidize the private speech of other entities and religious organizations.”
The unions asked the judge to allow them to add such claims to their current complaint.
The defendants have not yet responded to the new filing, and the judge has not yet ruled on the matter.
The union plaintiffs are represented by Countryside-based Local 150 staff attorneys Dale D. Pierson, Kenneth Edwards, James Connolly Jr. and Robert Paszta; attorneys Marc R. Poulos, Kara M. Principe and Joseph Sweeney, of the Indiana Illinois Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting; Kenneth D. Lamb, of Corboy & Demetrio P.C., of Chicago; and Terrance B. McGann and Karen M. Rioux, of the firm of McGann Ketterman & Rioux, of Chicago.
Lincolnshire and the IML are represented in the case by attorneys Lorilea Buerkett and Daniel L. Hamilton, of the firm of Brown Hay & Stephens LLP, of Springfield, and Thomas G. DiCianni and Adam B. Simon, of the firm of Ancel Glink Diamond Bush DiCianni & Krafthefer P.C., of Chicago and Vernon Hills.