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High Court To Review Federal Labor Authority Over State Militias

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the state of Ohio's claims that a U.S. agency that oversees labor issues in the federal workforce cannot force the Ohio National Guard and other state militias to bargain with unions. The justices agreed to review a 2021 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has the power to hear disputes between the National Guard and unions because its workers are considered federal employees, Reuters reports. The Ohio Attorney General says the National Guard's administrative and technical workers, known as technicians, serve both federal and state functions, placing them out of the labor authority's reach.

The 6th Circuit upheld an FLRA ruling that said the Ohio National Guard violated federal labor law in 2016 by abruptly ending its 45-year relationship with the American Federation of Government Employees.

The two other federal appeals to consider the issue have ruled the same way. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the National Guard is not a federal agency, so the FLRA cannot regulate it. Federal law treats employees of state National Guards, which are state agencies, as civilian federal employees, while recognizing the dual federal and state nature of their jobs. Ohio told the Supreme Court that state officials are responsible for training and supervising National Guard technicians, and a federal agency cannot regulate their conduct under federal labor law.


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