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HARRISBURG (Sept. 5, 2018) – A proposed state mandate on public employers regarding employees’ union rights is unnecessary in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling and the steps the Pennsylvania State Education Association is taking to comply with it, PSEA Executive Director Jim Vaughan testified before a legislative committee today.
House Bill 2571 would require public employers to notify non-union members every pay period that their membership in a union is voluntary and not a condition of employment. In Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Courtruled that public-sector unions like PSEA can no longer collect fair share fees from non-members for the services that unions must provide to them.
“Post-Janus, public employers are prohibited from deducting fair share fees from nonconsenting non-members, which makes the proposed mandate in House Bill 2571 superfluous,” Vaughan testified before the Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee. “PSEA has already provided this notice to non-members who were formerly fee payers.”
Vaughan reviewed the extensive steps PSEA has taken to comply with the Janus decision, including notifying all former fee payers, halting collection of fair share fees from non-members, and refunding any fee amounts collected in July and August after the date of the ruling, among other measures.
In addition to being unnecessary, House Bill 2571 would promote anti-union bias by presenting only one side of the choice, Vaughan testified.
“Individual employees always have the free choice to engage in or refrain from union activities,” he said. “The stated intent of HB 2571 is exclusively focused on telling public employees of their right to not join a union, but there is another side. They may also choose to join a union, just as the overwhelming majority of school district bargaining unit employees have chosen to do.”
Vaughan noted that PSEA has more than 181,00 dues-paying members and, prior to the Janus ruling, only 6,800 fee payers. Since the ruling, PSEA has seen a slight increase in membership.
In order to give public employees complete information, Vaughan also said that the bill should be amended to inform public employees of their full rights, including their rights to join a union.
“It would be a disservice to public school employees to deliberatively exclude union rights and benefits from the proposed notice requirements, especially since it is objectively proven that a strong union is in the best interests for those employees, their students, and their schools,” he said.
“PSEA is proud of the benefits and services it provides to members. At the heart of our membership is a resounding desire to be supported and recognized for the challenging and important work our members do on behalf of Pennsylvania’s students and schools.”
PSEA represents approximately 181,000 future, active, and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.