This summer, we began reporting on the astonishing trend of Pennsylvania school districts signing new teacher contracts that still include illegal fair share fee clauses. (This despite the U.S. Supreme Court banning such forced payments from government workers on June 27, 2018 in the case Janus v. AFSCME).
We’ve been analyzing new teacher and support staff contracts signed this year, and we’ve found at least 12 more school districts that have hopped on this ignominious bandwagon, bringing the total to over 20:
- Cambria Heights Teachers’ and Support contracts, 2019-2022
- Cocalico Teachers’ Contract, 2019-2024
- Corry Area Support Staff Contract, 2019-2024
- Easton Area Administrative Professionals Contract (with AFSCME Council 33, Local 1881), 2019-2022
- Elk Lake Teachers’ Contract, 2019-2024
- Everett Area Support Staff Contract, 2019-2023
- Jeannette City Teachers’ Contract, 2019-2024
- Rochester Area Teachers’ and Support Staff contracts, 2019-2024
- Meyersdale Area Teachers’ Contract, 2019-2023
- Northampton Area Teachers’ Contract, 2019-2024
- Parkland Teachers’ Contract, 2019-2022
- Williams Valley Teachers’ Contract, 2019-2022
As we’ve noted before, this appears to be a cynical effort on the part of PSEA (the main culprit in this trend) to force teachers to pay up if and when the Janus decision is overturned (we know: wishful thinking). Notice as well the legal acrobatics some school districts, like Meyersdale Area, are performing to avoid getting sued:
The 2019-24 Northampton Area teachers’ contract is similarly creative with its fair share fee language. On p. 24 it says, “Due to the United States Supreme Court Decision effective in June of 2018 this clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement shall not be enforced until a time in which there is a reverse ruling.” Elk Lake’s says fair share fees “shall no longer be in effect,” but the “provision shall be returned in its entirety and enforced as part of the agreement at the time fair share is deemed legal.”
However, it’s the duty of school boards to follow current constitutional rulings from the highest court of the land, not speculate about the future. While fair share fees remain in contracts, teachers’ rights remain unprotected and at risk for outright violation. Now that’s both unfair and illegal.
(***Side note: Cocalico, Corry Area, and Easton Area school districts formally signed their contracts just a month or two before the Janus ruling came down. However, the start dates of the new contracts are all July 1, 2019, which still renders the fair share fee provisions illegal. In such cases, school districts ought to issue a subsequent memorandum of understanding or similar document removing the fair share fee from contract. The point here is to follow the law fully and ensure educators understand their rights).