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While more labor unions give freedom to workers, PSEA goes backwards


Our companion project Free to Serve (for fellow non-teacher government workers) has been tracking an encouraging trend. More and more of the unions representing state workers have decided to remove the requirement that members resign only during a 15-day window at the end of their contracts. First it was SEIU Local 668, and now it’s AFSCME, UFCW, and the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA).

The changes these major unions have made resulted from the pressure individual workers brought through lawsuits challenging these resignation windows, otherwise known as maintenance of membership (MOM) clauses. These include Molina v. SEIU Local 668, James v. SEIU Local 668, and Kabler v. UFCW 1776. The overall effect, however, has been to make other unions representing state workers ditch their MOMs in order to comply more fully with Janus v. AFSCME.

Contrast the above developments with the complete impunity of the PSEA, which has been steadily negotiating new teacher contracts containing fair share fee provisions. (You know, the very fees the Supreme Court ruled as illegal, and which unions charged to non-member teachers as a condition of employment.)

Thankfully, like the dozen or so workers who held unions such as SEIU and AFSCME accountable, a group of intrepid educators is also taking the PSEA to task. Through Hartnett v. PSEA, they are asking that Pennsylvania authorities strike down fair share fees at the state level, which would bring our laws in line fully with the Janus ruling.

Right now, complying with Janus simply relies on unions and government authorities promising that they’ll follow it. And the PSEA is hoping that by keeping fair share fee language in contracts, the union can swipe money again from non-members if and when the Janus ruling is overturned.

So, there you have it. While some major unions have foresworn fair share fees, even dropping the resignation windows that stop workers from leaving the union when the wish, the PSEA is doubling down. It’s just one more reason Pennsylvania teachers need to verify that school districts–and the big teachers’ unions–are really defending their rights.

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