The Fairness Center represents Tammy C. Wessner, a psychiatric aide at Wernersville State Hospital. Years ago, Ms. Wessner was asked to, and did, sign a card that made her a member of AFSCME, Council 13. But in 2018, she resigned her membership after several years of researching how to get out of the union because she believes that the union does not represent her interests or beliefs. The union, however, refused to honor her resignation, never even bothering to respond to her resignation letter.
Ms. Wessner brings this lawsuit to establish that the union cannot force her to remain a union member. She contends in this lawsuit that the union’s failure to honor her resignation violates her constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association.
Pennsylvania law currently allows unions to force their members to stay in a union until a 15-day resignation period that occurs only when a collective bargaining agreement expires. In this case, that 15-day window occurs at the end of the three-year term of the current agreement, in June 2019. The union refuses to honor Ms. Wessner’s resignation, instead forcing her to remain on its rolls with union dues regularly deducted from her wages.
Unions should not be able to force public employees to be union members against their will, remaining associated with a group with which they disagree and having to support that group financially. Ms. Wessner seeks to establish that her constitutional rights cannot be limited to a 15-day resignation window every three or more years.
Tammy C. Wessner v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 13; David R. Fillman, in his official capacity as Executive Director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 13; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services; Teresa D. Miller, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; Thomas W. Wolf, in his official capacity as Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Michael Newsome, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Office of Administration; Anna Maria Kiehl, in her official capacities as Chief Accounting Officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Deputy Secretary for the Office of Comptroller Operations
This case was settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties. Ms. Wessner is no longer a member of AFSCME, Council 13 or its affiliates.