PSEA oops: Letters & the law
Members’ backlash has led the Pennsylvania State Education Association to avoid another mass mailing like the personalized, pro-Tom Wolf form letters it sent to their spouses before the Nov. 4 election. But whether those letters broke state law depends on the outcome of a complaint filed with the state Labor Relations Board.
Williamsport’s Mary Trometter, a PSEA member and registered Republican, took offense at the salutation naming her husband and the conclusion: “Please join Mary in voting for Tom Wolf for Governor on November 4th.” Her complaint to the board contends the letters violated state law’s ban on employee organizations giving money “directly or indirectly to any political party or organization or in support of any political candidate for public office.”
Representing her, Fairness Center general counsel David Osborne told The Washington Free Beacon that lax enforcement has encouraged unions to ignore that ban. The PSEA contends the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling upholding First Amendment rights protects union political communications with members and trumps state law.
Hopefully, Mrs. Trometter’s complaint — which might turn on whether the PSEA coordinated with the Wolf campaign, which another case forbids in Pennsylvania — will move the state closer to a strictly enforced ban on unions spending dues money in ways that their members oppose.