Pennsylvania State Education Association Returns Fees to Religious Objectors; Objectors Speak up on Importance of Permanent Resolution

Contact: Conner Drigotas, 844-293-1001,

August 23, 2018, Harrisburg, Pa. – Four religious objectors to union membership received checks last week from the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), a return of thousands of dollars the union now acknowledges they have no right to hold. The teachers continue to seek a permanent resolution to a years-long legal battle with the PSEA—a court ruling that their constitutional rights were violated and ensuring they will not be violated again.

As religious objectors to union payments, Fairness Center clients Jane Ladley (now retired, Chester County), Chris Meier (Lancaster County), Linda Misja (Armstrong County), and James Williams (Armstrong County) had the right to support a charity instead of the union. But for years, the PSEA rejected their chosen charities, instead holding their money in escrow and demanding that objectors donate to a charity that advances union viewpoints that led them to become religious objectors in the first place.

That policy led to multiple lawsuits challenging the unions right to indefinitely hold money intended for charity. The Fairness Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm, represents clients from across the state who have had funds withheld from charitable organizations for years.

Following the United States Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31 in June 2018, public employee nonmembers of unions across the country were able to free themselves from forced fees. For religious objectors in Pennsylvania, Janus also raised questions as to how to handle escrowed money.

The PSEA’s decision to refund escrowed money addresses one of the issues involved in these cases, but it does not address the core issue: whether Pennsylvania law remains constitutional under Janus. That is why Jane and several other Fairness Center clients seek to secure a long-lasting ruling to ensure that Pennsylvania law is struck down under Janus. It remains important to secure such a ruling and enjoin the unions from hurting these teachers again.

After receiving her check from the PSEA, Ms. Ladley chose to donate her money to the Constitutional Organization of Liberty (COOL), an organization that educates Pennsylvanians on the Constitution and founding principles. For years, the PSEA had blocked Ms. Ladley’s efforts to donate her money to COOL on ideological grounds.

“We appreciate the gift that Ms. Ladley is providing to COOL but we are especially excited on her behalf to see her convictions reinforced by the Supreme Court” commented Greg Keiper, Chairman of COOL, “This ruling isn’t simply about money but about how an individual can exercise their God-given liberties by using their own resources as they see fit, without compromising their own values. My hope is that the Supreme Court’s ruling is fully implemented here in Pennsylvania.”

David Osborne, President and General Counsel of the Fairness Center commented, “Now that these funds are delivered to the proper place, the next step can begin: making sure religious objectors are permanently protected from union interference.”


Fairness Center President David Osborne is available for comment. Contact Conner Drigotas at 844-293-1001 or to schedule an interview.

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The Fairness Center is a nonprofit public interest law firm offering free legal services to those hurt by public employee union officials. Fairness Center attorneys provide clients with a voice in the court of law and the court of public opinion. For more information visit