Citing Janus, Pennsylvania Public School Teachers Ask Federal Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Law Authorizing Forced Dues

Teachers who sued to challenge forced union fees file motion asking court to apply the Supreme Court’s Janus decision to Keystone State law authorizing forced fees

Harrisburg, PA (October 9, 2018) – In an ongoing case challenging the constitutionality of mandatory union payments, a group of Pennsylvania teachers have asked a federal judge to apply the recent landmark Janus Supreme Court precedent by striking down the portions of Pennsylvania law that authorize forced union dues.

This case, Hartnett v. Pennsylvania State Education Association, was originally filed in March 2017 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in the state capital of Harrisburg. Teachers Gregory Hartnett of the Homer-Center School District, Elizabeth Galaska of the Twin Valley School District, and Robert Brough, Jr. and John Cress of the Ellwood City Area School District, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Pennsylvania-based Fairness Center, filed the case as a First Amendment challenge to the state law which gives public sector union officials the power to compel non-union teachers and other government workers to pay union fees to keep their jobs.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Illinois state worker Mark Janus, whose case was briefed and argued by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. In Janus, the Supreme Court ruled that, unless public sector workers affirmatively consent to paying union dues or fees and knowingly waive their First Amendment right not to subsidize a labor union, the collection of dues or fees violates their constitutional rights.

In light of the Janus decision, the teachers filed a motion for summary judgement last month, asking the court to take into account the Janus precedent and rule for the teachers. The motion asks the Court to invalidate Pennsylvania state law provisions which conflict with the teachers’ rights under Janus, striking down any authorization for mandatory union payments. On Friday, the teachers filed their opposition to the unions’ motion to dismiss the case.

The case isn’t the only one brought by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for workers challenging Pennsylvania law. In a case filed just last month, Foundation staff attorneys represent Pennsylvania school bus driver Michael Mayer, who sued after Teamsters union officials rejected his attempts to exercise his rights under Janus by resigning his union membership and informing the union it lacks his authorization for deducting dues from his paycheck.

“Thanks to the historic Foundation-won Janus precedent, teachers and school employees across the country are finally free to exercise their constitutional rights and decide for themselves whether or not union officials deserve a portion of their paycheck,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, it is critical that any authorization for public sector forced dues be permanently removed from state law, so unscrupulous union bosses cannot use unconstitutional provisions to attempt to deceive workers about their right not to fund a labor union.”

To inform workers of their legal rights under Janus, and ensure they know they can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid if union officials attempt to obstruct them from exercising those rights, the Foundation launched a special website:

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.