MHPC files brief in support of Maine professor suing faculty union to restore his First Amendment rights


The Maine Heritage Policy Center Files Amicus Brief in 
Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine

The lawsuit challenges exclusive representation laws that prevent some public-sector employees from representing themselves in the workplace

PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) today filed an amicus brief in Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine (AFUM) urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case challenging state laws that force public sector employees, who are not members of a union, to accept a union’s exclusive representation in negotiations with their employer. The brief argues that state-compelled exclusive representation impinges on the First Amendment rights of public employees.

Jonathan Reisman, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine Machias who formerly served as AFUM’s grievance officer, does not accept having a union that advocates for policies with which he disagrees negotiate and speak on his behalf in matters with his employer. Despite efforts to completely disassociate with the union, including resigning union membership, state law forces Reisman to be represented by AFUM because the union is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of workers within his bargaining unit.  

The case, filed by The Buckeye Institute in August 2018, is one of the first major lawsuits demanding recognition of pubic-sector workers’ First Amendment rights since the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that compelled speech in the form of mandatory dues or fees to a labor union is unconstitutional.

Upon filing the brief, MHPC’s chief executive officer Matthew Gagnon said:

“Exclusive representation laws undermine the First Amendment rights of public employees by forcing those who disassociate with unions to accept unwanted union representation. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus found that the rights of public employees are violated when they are forced to associate with a union in the form of compelled speech, or financial assistance, against their will.

A ruling in favor of Professor Reisman would provide workers the same freedom in contract negotiations. Under a consistent application of the First Amendment, exclusive representation should be struck down, and we hope the high court agrees to hear this case.”

MHPC is joined in the brief by Alaska Policy Forum, Americans for Tax Reform, the California Policy Center, the Center for Worker Freedom, the Empire Center for Public Policy, the James Madison Institute, the John Locke Foundation, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Mississippi Justice Institute, the Nevada Policy Research Institute, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and the Washington Policy Center.

The full brief in support of Professor Reisman’s case can be read here.


The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization dedicated to freeing people from dependency, creating prosperity, and redefining the role of government. MHPC formulates and promotes free-market public policies in the areas of health care, education, regulations, government transparency and tax and fiscal policy. To learn more about MHPC or review our policy work, visit: