Victory: the court denied the union’s motion to dismiss.
Conduct discovery and depositions, and file motion for summary judgment.
The Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Government has long been a leader in challenging unconstitutional government subsidies to private businesses and organizations. Among the most egregious of these abuses is a practice called “release time.” Under release time, government employees are “released” from the jobs they were hired to perform to work exclusively for government unions—all while receiving taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits. While on release time, government workers are paid to increase union membership, engage in political activities, lobby the government, file grievances against their employer, and negotiate for higher wages and benefits, among other things.
The practice of release time is prevalent throughout New Jersey and in many states. But the collective bargaining agreement between the Jersey City School District and the Jersey City Education Association is particularly egregious. That agreement requires the government to pay the salaries of two full-time teachers who do not teach, but spend their full time performing union work.
That’s just the sort of direct handout that the New Jersey state constitution prohibits. The constitution’s “Gift Clause” forbids state or local governments from giving any money or property, or lending money or credit, to any association. This guarantees that public money will only be spent for public purposes. Release time violates the Gift Clause by directly subsidizing the private interests of a union with taxpayer funds.
On January 4, 2017, the Goldwater Institute filed suit against Jersey City School District to block the practice of release time, and to end this form of government cronyism.
Lawsuit targets Jersey City teachers performing full-time union work
The Goldwater Institute represents Jersey City taxpayer Moshe Rozenblit and New Jersey taxpayer Won Kyu Rim. The Defendants are the Jersey City School District and the JCEA. The case was filed in the Hudson County Superior Court.
Taxpayer plaintiffs seek an order declaring the release time provisions in the District and JCEA contract unconstitutional and barring their further enforcement.
Jon Riches is the Direct of National Litigation for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. He litigates in the areas of taxpayer rights and fiscal policy, public union and pension reform, government transparency, economic liberty, and school choice, among others. Prior to joining the Goldwater Institute, Jon served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, where he represented hundreds of clients, litigated dozens of Court-Martial cases, and advised commanders on a vast array of legal issues.
Adi Dynar is a Staff Attorney at the Goldwater Institute. He litigates cases across the United States relating to fundamental civil rights, free enterprise, freedom of speech and association, and freedom of information, among others. Prior to joining the Goldwater Institute, Adi worked in areas of constitutional law and immigration law.