Today, Associated Builders and Contractors and ABC of Connecticut joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several other organizations in filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court District of Connecticut challenging an unconstitutional labor law passed by the state of Connecticut.
ABC and the other plaintiffs contend that provisions recently added to Connecticut general statutes Section 31-51q are preempted under the National Labor Relations Act and violate First Amendment protections for employer speech.
“ABC calls on the court to end the state of Connecticut’s intrusion into an area preempted and exclusively regulated by the NLRA and to allow its member employers to engage in protected speech,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “In America, employees and businesses benefit from the freedom to exchange information and ideas related to politics, policies and regulations––including the pros and cons of unionization––so they can make informed choices about issues that matter most in the workplace.”
“We are accustomed to defending our members from state government’s assaults on competitive bidding and free enterprise, but the trampling of federal law to stifle speech between employer and employee is a new level of government overreach,” said Chris Fryxell, president of ABC of Connecticut. “Connecticut businesses must be permitted to openly connect with their employees on important issues related to legislation, regulation and unionization so that employees can make informed decisions about their own future and the future of their company. Government intrusion in these basic communications is not just wrong, it is unconstitutional.”
- The Connecticut General Assembly recently added subsections (a) and (b)(2) to Section 31-51q (“the 2022 Amendments”). Because of the 2022 Amendments, employers in Connecticut are now subject to liability, penalties and other administrative action when they exercise their federal constitutional and statutory rights to talk to employees about political issues, including “the decision to join or support any … labor organization.”
- The 2022 Amendments violate the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against employers’ viewpoints on political matters, by regulating the content of employers’ communications with their employees and by prohibiting employer speech.
- The 2022 Amendments are also preempted by the NLRA, which comprehensively regulates labor relations. For decades, and consistent with the First Amendment, the NLRA has protected the right of employers and other parties to express their views on unionization to their employees. Conversely, the NLRA prohibits statements and actions, including unlawful threats, that interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights protected by the NLRA. The 2022 Amendments intrude into this subject matter where Connecticut and other states have no power to regulate.
- The 2022 Amendments are overbroad and discriminatory toward employers’ speech and assembly rights guaranteed by the First and 14th Amendments.