Tanick’s winning argument vindicated his clients, five firefighters who worked for nine Crow Wing County communities. It also gave unions — possibly even contracts in general — a win.
Tanick is a shareholder at Meyer Njus Tanick. In 2015, he represented Firefighters Union Local 4725, whose contract the city of Brainerd had terminated, claiming it was financially infeasible. The city replaced the firefighters with volunteers, ending their employment and pension plan.
Before the Supreme Court, Tanick argued that the city’s financial rationale was irrelevant, because the contract was the issue. Ruling in favor of the city might put all contracts at risk, and even make vendors reluctant to contract with the government.
The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the city had engaged in unfair labor practices and had not followed procedures for ending a union.
No previous case involved a similar attempt to terminate a union contract, so the case sets a precedent for other union cases. “Labor unions have taken a lot of blows in recent years,” Tanick says. “This was a rare instance where a union won and solidified rights.”
Tanick attributes much of the success to colleague Teresa Ayling. “She did excellent work in the researching and briefing of the litigation,” he says.
Tanick will argue more Supreme Court cases in 2020, including a case about whether a state legislator can be sued for defamation in connection with his job duties.
Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2019 here.
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