Altshuler Berzon LLP Partner Named One of the “Top 100 Attorneys in California”

Michael Rubin honored as a Top Attorney for fifth year in a row

September 16, 2020 – The Daily Journal’s annual list of Top 100 Attorneys in California named Altshuler Berzon LLP partner Michael Rubin for the fifth straight year, honoring him for his groundbreaking work on behalf of low-wage workers and the environment.  Citing his and the firm’s novel use of the public-nuisance doctrine to enforce COVID-19 workplace protections and to seek abatement of the harms to public infrastructure caused by global warming, the Daily Journal praised Rubin’s efforts at both the trial and appellate level. In addition to describing the firm’s success in obtaining an 11-point injunction against a local McDonald’s restaurant that had failed to adequately protect the health and safety of its crew members and their families, and two Ninth Circuit opinions allowing climate change litigation against major oil and gas companies to proceed in state court, the Daily Journal noted the “remarkable opinion” Rubin recently obtained from the Texas Court of Appeal in Fort Worth, which barred Exxon from suing California cities and counties in Texas state court for pursuing that climate change litigation, despite that appellate court’s “impulse to safeguard an industry that is vital to Texas’s economic well-being.”

Ninth Circuit Rejects Post-Janus Challenge to Public Sector Union Membership Agreements

September 16, 2020.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a published decision in Belgau v. Inslee, No. 19-35137, rejecting claims by former union members, represented by a conservative advocacy organization, who alleged that their First Amendment rights were violated when their state employer deducted union membership dues that the plaintiffs themselves had agreed to pay in exchange for union membership rights and benefits.  The Court joined what it called the “swelling chorus of courts” recognizing that Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 38 S.Ct. 2448 (2018), did not invalidate voluntary union membership agreements.  Belgau is the first decision from a federal Court of Appeals addressing similar claims.

Altshuler Berzon LLP represented the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 in Belgau.  The firm also represents the union defendants in many other cases in which federal district courts have rejected similar claims brought against public sector unions by the same conservative advocacy organization, and other similar organizations, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision. 

The Ninth Circuit’s decision is available here.  Posts about previous victories in similar cases, including in many cases the Court in Belgau cited, can be found here, here, here, and here.

Sixth Circuit Rejects Constitutional Challenge to Exclusive Representative Collective Bargaining

August 25, 2020 – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today rejected a constitutional challenge to Ohio’s use of a democratic system of exclusive representative collective bargaining to set employment terms for public school teachers. Like many other states, Ohio allows units of public employees, if they choose, to elect a union representative to negotiate with the public employer about unit-wide terms and conditions of employment. In the case before the Sixth Circuit, one public school teacher – represented by the Buckeye Institute – argued that these collective bargaining systems should be invalidated as a violation of the First Amendment, even if public employees do not have to join or financially support the majority-chosen union representative. The Sixth Circuit rejected that argument as foreclosed by Supreme Court precedent, thereby reaching the same conclusion as all the other courts to consider the same issue. Altshuler Berzon LLP represented the Marietta Education Association in defending the Ohio Law. The case is Thompson v. Marietta Education Association, et al., Sixth Cir. Case No. 19-4217.