Connecticut Labor Unions Pursue Bargaining Rights for National Guard Reserves

Connecticut Labor Unions Pursue Bargaining Rights for National Guard Reserves

Connecticut National Guard members on active duty ordered by the governor filed a lawsuit on Nov. 15 seeking the right to collectively bargain, stating they should be allowed to organize in the same way civilian state employees do. 

The federal law of 1978 has ensured that it is a criminal felony for veterans, including the National Guard, to join or even attempt to become a member or try to create any form of a labor organization. However, the law only applies to service members on active federal duty, under the order of U.S. military officials, according to the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic. 

The clinic represents four Connecticut state employee unions that filed a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The lawsuit is seeking confirmation that the 1978 law should not keep members of the National Guard from unionizing while on active duty for a state, and therefore, those members would not face criminal charges.

Gov. Ned Lamont's office and the (DOJ) declined to comment on the lawsuit filed in federal court in Connecticut.

"When we're on state active duty, we are proud to help our home state respond to natural disasters, public health crises, and other emergencies," Christopher Albani, a former member of the 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron in East Granby, Conn., wrote in a statement. "We just wish we had the same opportunity to join together as do the civilian state employees alongside whom we work."

Council 4 is one of the four councils which filed this lawsuit. This was done together with the police and fire unions in Connecticut and the National Association of Government Employees and Civil Service Employees International Union Local 2001.

The lawsuit is the first to challenge a law barring members of the military from unionizing on.