The Rapid and union reach settlement in First Amendment case

Posted at 8:52 AM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 08:52:14-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The ongoing contract dispute between The Rapid and its union leadership goes on, but a new development in federal court Tuesday reaffirms the union’s right to distribute literature in public spaces.

In August 2015, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836 (ATU) filed a lawsuit against The Rapid, alleging that they infringed on their First Amendment rights by threatening to have off-duty employees arrested for distributing leaflets about contract negotiations on publicly available property.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the ATU says that they’re expecting the U.S. District Court to issue a final consent judgment ruling that The Rapid can not interfere with their union employees distributing leaflets on Rapid property that is open to the public.

Both parties agreed to filing the consent decree with the court, which in addition to allowing off-duty union employees to protest, also stated that The Rapid will be dropping its appeal of the court’s original injunction in August. The Rapid also agreed to pay the union’s legal fees.

FOX 17 reached out to The Rapid for comment, and external relations manager Jennifer Kalczuk said this:

“The Rapid agreed to settle the first amendment case so that we could secure control of our property. This agreement accomplishes that while preserving employee rights to free speech.

The ultimate objective is to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with ATU Local 836. With this matter fully resolved, it is our expectation that the Union will return their focus to the bargaining table and address the issues through a productive negotiations process, resulting in a new contract.”

Contract negotiations between The Rapid and the ATU continue.