|Posted:||April 17, 2015 09:09 AM|
|From:||Representative John A. Lawrence|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Fair Share Fees / Religious Objectors|
Dear Colleagues –
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation giving government employees with strongly held religious convictions greater freedom to determine how their own money is spent.
As we have often heard, Pennsylvania law does not require a government employee covered under a union contract to join the union. However, individuals choosing not to join the union are often compelled to pay so-called “fair share” fees to the union. The PSEA describes the process as follows:
“Unions represent everyone covered by a collective bargaining agreement, even non-members...Fair share simply provides for individuals to share in the costs for the benefits and services they receive by paying a fair portion for those benefits and services.”
Existing state law provides employees with a strongly held religious conviction the ability to object to paying a “fair share” fee and instead to send their money to a charity agreed to by both the individual and the union.
An individual in my district recently objected to payment of “fair share” fees as a religious objector and attempted to have her money sent to a recognized non-profit, the Constitutional Organization Of Liberty, based in Central Pennsylvania. The union did not agree to the choice of the organization, instead escrowing her money. My constituent subsequently filed suit against the union, and the case is currently being litigated. The funds in question remain in escrow at this time.
This experience revealed a glaring hole in the statute: the law fails to address what should be done with a religious objector’s money when the objector and the union cannot agree on a charity.
My proposal does not change the “fair share” process, nor does it attempt to address the larger issue of withholding union dues, “fair share” fees, etc. Instead my proposal removes the requirement that the union and the religious objector must agree on which charity will receive religious objectors’ funds. Instead, the individual religious objector would simply have the ability to designate a recognized 501(c)3 organization of their own choosing.
I would appreciate your support of this initiative.
Introduced as HB267