AFSCME files suit to protect public employment services staffing

Posted Feb. 25, 2020 by

On Feb. 13, our national union, AFSCME, filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of union members across the country who perform vital public Employment Services (ES). The union's suit challenges a new Dept. of Labor (DOL) rule that allows states to skirt requirements to use a merit-based system when hiring ES workers. The rule opens the door to privatization with absolutely no accountability.

The federal rule is an attack on essential public employees, like our members in the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services, who serve veterans, Americans with disabilities and those displaced because of trade agreements and deficits.

OCSEA is asking union members to be on heightened alert of any attempts (or speculation) by ODJFS to privatize these services. "Ohio is not for sale! We will fight any consideration of privatization of these vital public functions at every level," said OCSEA President Chris Mabe. OCSEA and AFSCME have championed the merit-based staffing requirement of federally funded state ES workers for decades and hopes the injunction will stop the rule in its tracks.

The “merit system requirement” is 8-decade legal precedent, under the Wagner-Peyser Act. It was designed to ensure that ES workers are appointed based on merit and can provide access to unbiased retraining assistance, a wage subsidy, job search assistance, health insurance tax credits, relocation assistance and other unemployment benefits. ES workers around the country provide assistance to workers facing job displacement as a result of U.S. trade agreements and deficits. They are also critical in finding placements for Americans with disabilities and veterans.

The suit requests the following:

  1. Enter a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from implementing the Final Rule;
  2. Enter a declaratory judgment that the Final Rule is not in accordance with law, arbitrary and capricious and therefore invalid;
  3. Enter a permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants from implementing or otherwise giving effect to the Final Rule;
  4. Award Plaintiff its costs and expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees; and
  5. Award such further and additional relief as is just and proper.

Read the full complaint filed by AFSCME HERE.

Read the AFSCME suit press release HERE.

Read AFSCME's June 2019 public comments against the rule change HERE

Read the statement partner against privatization, the National Employment Law Project HERE.