No one should be forced to fund political activity that they don’t support. Jane Ladley, a teacher in Chester County, didn’t want her dues money being spent on partisan political causes. She initially decided against joining the union. However, her school became agency shop in her last year, so she had to become a fair share fee payer. Subsequently she filed a religious objection, where the amount equivalent to the fair share fee is sent to a charity mutually agreed upon by the teacher and union.
Sounds pretty simple, right? The problem is that the unions believe that they are under no obligation to agree to the teacher’s charity choice.
Jane chose to direct her fees to a scholarship fund for high school seniors showing interest in the U.S. Constitution. The PSEA rejected her request. The PSEA never responded to her regarding her second choice, a charity which provides education material on the U.S. Constitution. Jane retired from teaching in 2014, but her fees are still sitting in an escrow account.
Sadly, this is not unusual as there are numerous cases of teachers’ charities being rejected or ignored. Chris Meier also became a religious objector and opted to send his money to the Right to Work Legal Foundation. The PSEA refuse to approve his choice because they said it was a “conflict of interest.”
Fed up with the games being played with their hard earned money, Jane and Chris filed a lawsuit against the PSEA through The Fairness Center. Their hope is to give teachers the freedom to choose which charity receives their money.
Thanks to their bravery, state legislators are taking action. State Representative Lawrence plans to introduce legislation that would allow religious objectors, like Jane and Chris, to send their fees to any recognized 501(c)3 charity of their choosing.
If you’re a teacher or know one who is interested becoming a religious objector, check out this primer ‘4 Steps to Leaving Your Union’ and consider sharing your own story!