Union sues Fresno, transit agency for blocking ad — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Union sues Fresno, transit agency for blocking ad

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A health care workers’ union has filed a lawsuit against the city of Fresno, claiming it violated the union’s constitutional rights by failing to allow a union advertisement on city buses.

The Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers-West filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the city, the transit agency Fresno Area Express (FAX), three named individuals and 25 John Does.

The dispute arose after the workers at Fresno’s Community Medical Centers attempted to unionize with the United Healthcare Workers (UHW). In June 2008, the UHW tried to purchase a bus ad.

Lamar Transit Advertising, which leases ad space on the outside of FAX buses, was prohibited by the terms of its contract with the city from putting up ads containing political information or controversial subjects. Lamar was told that the city determined the ad to be political and thus was not allowed, based on Fresno’s municipal code and the contract with Lamar.

In the suit, the union claims the prohibition violated its First and 14th Amendment rights. It’s seeking a declaration that excluding the advertisement violates the U.S. Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and the California Constitution. In addition, the suit seeks injunctive relief and an order directing the city and FAX to place the ad.

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