By Dave Andrusko
A tip of the hat to Billy Hallowell for alerting readers to a pro-life public school teacher who is battling it out with Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA).
The union dues of Linda Misja, a language teacher at Apollo-Ridge High School in Spring Church, Pennsylvania, have been held in escrow for three years in a fight over where they should go. On June 18 she filed a federal lawsuit to bring resolution.
As is the case in many states, Misja “pays a ‘fair share fee,’ which is a sum teachers who are not part of the union pay due to the fact that they still benefit from contract negotiations despite not being members,” according to the Fairness Center which is representing Misja.
Her alternatives were People Concerned for the Unborn Child, a pro-life group, and the National Rifle Association Foundation, both of which the union rejected. (Our single-issue concern is obviously only the former.) Why?
Here’s the explanation/chronology provided by Jodi Weigand of the Tribune Review.
The PSEA allows those who have a religious objection to designate their fair share fee to “a nonreligious charity agreed upon by the nonmember and the union.
In 2012 Misja filed her religious objection “based on her belief that the PSEA supports causes that either directly or indirectly advocate for abortion rights,” Weigand reported.
Misja told Weigand she wrote the PSEA a letter. “It’s been a worry for me that my money might be going to support causes that go against my deep personal beliefs,” she explained. Misja is described as a devout Catholic.
According to the lawsuit, the PSEA first objected to Misja’s choice of People Concerned for the Unborn Child, a nonprofit pro-life organization that helps pregnant teens, saying that “it would be tantamount to sending your fees to a charity that furthers your religious beliefs,” according to the lawsuit.
The union said the money should go to a charity that counsels women on all options.
“I was quite shocked. I had no idea that my choice would be turned down,” Misja said. “I should have the freedom to put my money to a cause that I have a personal connection to and to a cause I believe in.”
The union rejected her request for arbitration and sent her a list of acceptable charities that included the March of Dimes and the American Heart Association.
In her lawsuit, Misja says PSEA’s policy rules out “large, vague categories of charities” and is an affront to her personal freedom.
“She says the union has violated her constitutional rights of free speech, association, expression and due process,” Weigand writes. “She wants the court to order PSEA to end its practice of ‘obstructing and censoring her charity selections.’”
In a statement issued in June, Misja said, “Plain and simple, it is my money that I worked hard for.” (It’s now over $2,000). “I need my money to go to a charity in which I believe — one of my own choosing — not one a group tells me it has to go to. That, to me, is not freedom.”