Worker Sues PennDOT, AFSCME over Alleged Sexism and Rules Violations

Member Group : Center Square

(The Center Square) – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and AFSCME have been sued by a union worker alleging sexism and self-dealing in violation of union rules.

Mindy McFetridge, a 10-year PennDOT employee in Venango County, is suing due to a “deliberate and unexplained failure to uphold and enforce seniority rights,” according to the complaint. McFetridge alleges that union and state officials discriminated against her in favor of a circle of male union officials, who kept each other working during COVID-19 while she was laid off.

Rather than stick to seniority rules that govern which employees work, McFetridge alleges favoritism cut her out of work that forced her to use paid time off and then collect unemployment. Instead, a union crew in Venango County kept working while she was laid off, though she had seniority ahead of three of the workers.

When she complained, she was told there was nothing she could do about it. When McFetridge went to union officials to file a grievance, they refused to file one. That left her with few options.

“Unions typically control the grievance process and enforcing collective bargaining rights on behalf of the employees who are to benefit from a collective bargaining agreement,” Fairness Center Vice President and Senior Litigation Counsel Danielle Acker Susanj said. “If unions choose to deny an employee’s request to file a grievance, there’s nothing the employee can do about it.”

“Union officials are supposed to protect their members, not play favorites,”  Susanj said. “But Council 13 officials chose to indulge a group of well-connected men over Mindy, even though she had earned more seniority than some of them. It’s 2022, not 1919. The union should be ashamed.”

Staff Reporter

Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.