It’s been one year since Janus v. AFSCME overturned 40 years of government labor precedent. Now, public employees who decide not to join their workplace union are no longer forced to pay fees for unwanted representation.
In fact, since the June 2018 court ruling, a flurry of worker-led lawsuits has erupted. Some workers are demanding unions to repay fair share fees. Others want the right to resign after the union denied their membership resignation and continued taking their dues.
Indeed, under this pressure, the Service Employees International Union Local 668 is letting workers resign at any time, while new state government union contracts strike out fair share fees.
So in this context, with fair share fees clearly unconstitutional and other types of coercive unionization under challenge, why would Pennsylvania school districts include agency fee provisions in their new contracts?
At least 12 school districts have signed new teacher contracts with fair share fees since the Janus ruling, even while school boards scrambled to comply with it. The wide-ranging districts agreeing to fair share fees with the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) include:
- New Kensington-Arnold, Westmoreland County (education support staff)
- Tuscarora School District, Franklin County
- Penn Manor, Lancaster County
- East Stroudsburg, Monroe & Pike Counties
- Upper Darby, Delaware County
- Oxford Area, Chester County
- Hanover Area, Luzerne County
- Steel Valley, Allegheny County
- Penn Hills, Allegheny County
- Jefferson-Morgan, Greene County
Unlike other unions that, under scrutiny, at least abide by Supreme Court ruling, it seems PSEA may be hedging its bets with this bizarre new wave of fair share fees.
Keeping fair share fee provisions in contracts makes it easy to restart the practice if Janus is rescinded or other changes occur. This is especially likely given Pennsylvania still has fair share fees in state law.
Further, few people have the time or interest to track tedious labor law, meaning many teachers are unaware of their recently-won Janus rights. In such an environment, union officials could easily mislead teachers into thinking they’ll pay fees for non-membership, deterring them from leaving the union.
Overall, public sector unions are preparing to yet again charge non-members fair share fees, prioritizing money over workplace choice. It’s more important than ever to pass the Employee Rights Notification Act to inform workers of their rights and to remove fair share fees from Pennsylvania law. No teacher or public worker should have their Court-affirmed rights violated.