It might stand to reason that taxpayer dollars should not be spent to benefit private unions, but that’s exactly what was happening in New Jersey — until the Goldwater Institute took action.
This week, the New Jersey Court of Appeals ruled that taxpayers in one of the state’s largest school districts will no longer be forced to pay for private union activities. New Jersey taxpayers—represented by the Goldwater Institute—filed the case to challenge release time, a practice that pays government employees to work exclusively for government unions, while still receiving their taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits. In this case, a union contract required a school district to pay the salaries of two full-time teachers who did not spend their time educating children, but instead performed full-time union work—costing taxpayers $1.1 million over the course of the agreement.
In the ruling, the Court of Appeals said that these teachers were “act[ing] exclusively as labor leaders,” rather than as “teachers who serve the day-to-day educational needs of the students of the district.” The court ruled that the practice is not authorized by statute, is “against public policy,” and that public funds can no longer be used for release time.
“Today is a great day for New Jersey taxpayers, because this puts an end to an egregious form of government cronyism,” said Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches, who is part of the legal team leading the lawsuit, Rozenblit v. Jersey City School District. “Government resources should be spent for public purposes, not to advance the activities and interests of private individuals and associations. Today’s decision will help ensure that private unions no longer benefit from public dollars.”
In its reporting on the ruling, the Jersey Journal said that the decision “is expected to have a ripple effect across the state.” Read more about this big win for taxpayer rights on In Defense of Liberty.
The Goldwater Institute is also challenging union release time in states nationwide, including working with the Texas Public Policy Foundation on a case in Texas.