CaseMolina v. SEIU, Local 668

Case Status

The case has been filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Case Details

Francisco Molina v. Pennsylvania Social Service Union, Service Employees International Union, Local 668; Stephen Catanese, in his official capacity as President of Pennsylvania Social Service Union, Service Employees International Union, Local 668; Lehigh County Board of Commissioners; Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth Services; Phil Armstrong, in his official capacity as County Executive of Lehigh County; and M. Judith Johnston, in her official capacity as Director of Human Resources of Lehigh County


"They should also have the right to leave a union without being intimidated or harassed by anyone."

In January 2018, Mr. Molina and others within his bargaining unit were asked to sign new union membership cards. At the time, the SEIU informed membership that it needed new cards because the existing cards were “invalid.” and the new cards would be “litigation proof.” The new cards would obligate members to pay dues, regardless of membership status—that is, even if they were no longer members.

Mr. Molina, who had once been a shop steward, refused to sign the new membership card and urged others to read the language in the card and make a decision for themselves. Union leadership believed that he was steering others, including new hires, away from union membership. After Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, Mr. Molina became more vocal in his opposition to the union, even addressing the Lehigh County Commissioners in a public comment session.

Mr. Molina resigned from Local 668 by letter, dated July 16, 2018, and demanded that dues deductions stop immediately. He copied his employer and obtained return receipts.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public employees have First Amendment rights that unions cannot violate. The Court recently extended those rights by holding in Janus that nonmembers cannot be forced to pay agency fees for union representation. The Court stated, “[f]orcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning . . . [and c]ompelling a person to subsidize the speech of other private speakers raises similar First Amendment concerns.” Janus, 138 S. Ct. 2448, 2464 (2018). Even before Janus, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals noted that “[t]he First Amendment affords public-sector employees the freedom not to associate with a labor organization.” Otto v. Pennsylvania State Educ. Ass’n, 330 F.3d 125, 128 (3d Cir. 2003).

The SEIU insists that it can require Mr. Molina to remain a union member until the end of the current collective bargaining agreement because of a provision of that agreement and Pennsylvania law. But over a decade ago, the current Chief Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania found that someone with a claim like Mr. Molina’s would be likely to succeed because the union’s failure to recognize his resignation violated his constitutional rights. See McCahon v. Pa. Tpk. Comm’n, 491 F. Supp. 2d 522 (M.D. Pa. 2007).

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Case Status

The case has been filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.