PSEA Flouts SCOTUS Ruling, Bargains for Unconstitutional ‘Fair Share’ Fees in Teacher Contracts

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Harrisburg, Pa.—In open disregard for the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) is bargaining to impose “fair share” fees on non-union member teachers in the commonwealth, according to a legal filing in an ongoing lawsuit.

For decades, most Pennsylvania teachers who chose not to be union members still had to pay a fee to a teachers’ union as a condition of employment. That changed in June 2018 when the court outlawed these so-called “fair share” fees as a violation of teachers’ First Amendment rights.

But according to a legal brief recently filed by the Fairness Center on behalf of two public schoolteachers, “[PSEA] continues to bargain for fair share fees in collective bargaining agreements well after Janus was decided.” The filing cites teacher contracts from the East Stroudsburg Area School District in Monroe County, Penn Manor School District in Lancaster County, Southern Fulton School District in Fulton County, and Steel Valley School District in Allegheny County as examples of contracts enacted after the Janus ruling that still contain the unconstitutional “fair share” fee requirement.

“This is a slap in the face to public schoolteachers,” commented Charles Mitchell, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “By ignoring the Supreme Court’s ruling, teachers’ union leaders are repudiating the constitutional rights of nonmembers. It’s outrageous that unions are inserting blatantly unconstitutional language in teacher contracts.”

On page two of the legal brief, the Fairness Center argues that the PSEA’s practice of including “fair share” fees in teacher contracts after the Janus decision contributes to “confusion” and provides “an avenue for PSEA to return to its allegedly abandoned practices” of collecting fees from nonmembers.

This isn’t the only case of union officials obfuscating government workers’ rights. State liquor store union officials lied to store clerk John Kabler about his options, telling him in writing that he had to join the union as a full member in order to keep his job—a matter that is also the subject of a recent lawsuit.

“Union leaders are trying every trick in the book to keep workers in the dark about the rights restored to them by the Supreme Court,” continued Mitchell. “Enough is enough. It’s time for lawmakers to stand up for government workers and pass legislation to notify them of their true rights when it comes to paying a union.”

HB 785, sponsored by Rep. Kate Klunk and advanced by the House Labor and Industry Committee in March, would ensure new and non-union member public employees are notified of their rights. The bill also eliminates state “fair share” laws that are unconstitutional after the Janus ruling, a step that would help prevent unions from including “fair share” fees in new contracts.

Meanwhile, Gov. Wolf is also holding secret negotiations with state government union leaders—some of his largest campaign donors—over contracts worth more than $3 billion.

“Governor Wolf can abide by the Supreme Court’s decision and eliminate ‘fair share’ fee language from these new union contracts,” remarked Mitchell. “Or he can join government union leaders and attempt to ignore workers’ First Amendment rights. Which will he choose?”

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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