Mary Trometter v. Pennsylvania State Education Association & National Education Association
If someone used your name on an election mailer to solicit votes for a candidate without your consent, you’d probably feel betrayed. But what if they sent that mailer to your spouse, lied about who you were voting for, and made you pay for it all—violating state law in the process? That’s exactly what the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the National Education Association (NEA) did to twenty-year union member and educator Mary Trometter, and she’s demanding answers.
Mary Trometter has been a member of the PSEA for more than 20 years. The first member of her immediate family to graduate from college, Trometter is currently assistant professor of culinary arts at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Days before Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election, Mary’s husband received a letter from the NEA’s Super PAC, which is funded using union membership dues. The letter urged him, as a “family member of an educator,” to vote for Tom Wolf in the election. And it ended with a plea to her husband: “Please join Mary in voting for Tom Wolf for Governor on November 4th.”
The letter sent to Mary Trometter’s husband and signed by the presidents of PSEA and NEA was paid for by the NEA Advocacy Fund, the NEA’s independent expenditure committee or “SuperPAC.” The NEA Advocacy Fund was financed by more than $12 million from the NEA itself, including money from union members’ dues, which violates section 1701 of the Public Employee Relations Act, which states:
“No employe organization shall make any contribution out of the funds of the employe organization either directly or indirectly to any political party or organization or in support of any political candidate for public office.”
Mary decided to expose these union officials’ misconduct with the help of the Fairness Center.