A Pennsylvania based teachers union was sued in federal court Thursday for allegedly obstructing Linda Misja, a local teacher, from expressing her rights as a religious objector.
“Pennsylvania law is unique, it allows religious exemptions” David Osborne, general counsel for the Fairness Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Instead of paying a union, you can donate to a charity.”
Though state law requires all workers to contribute to their workplace union, it is unique from most mandatory dues states in that it allows for a religious objection under certain circumstances. So long as the union deems workers’ religious beliefs acceptable, they can give dues money to a charity of their choice so long as that charity is not religious.
“She filed a religious exemption back in 2012,” Osborne detailed. “Linda’s request is simple, she should be able to donate to the charity of her choice. I think this is about obstructing nonmember choices.”
Misja was allowed to stop contributing to the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) for its perceived support of abortion rights, which violated her religious beliefs.
“They advocate and openly support abortion,” Misja told TheDCNF. “My money has been held hostage, as it were, for three years.”
Despite approving her religious exemption, the union prevented Misja from donating to the charities of her choice. In fact, according to Misja, many of the charities the union said were okay supported abortion, the very issue that caused her to leave the union.
“I have taken time to investigate these groups,” Misja continued. “I gave them two vastly different groups.”
The first charity Misja suggested was People Concerned for the Unborn Child, a local charity that advocates for prolife issues while caring for teenage mothers. Though the group is not religiously affiliated, PSEA said the issue it advocated for advanced her religious beliefs.
“I have a deep and close connection with this charity,” Misja detailed. “I know all the people and can follow the money.”
The second charity Misja suggested was the NRA Foundation, which the union rejected for being political. The law, however, only includes restrictions for religious charities, not political ones. Misja also contends that unlike the regular National Rifle Association, its foundation counterpart is not political in nature and more focused on teaching gun safety.
“They are not the political arm of the NRA,” Misja proclaimed. “This was not good enough for the union. I suppose the term political, according to the union, depends on what side you fall on the political spectrum,” Misja said. “All of these have very large lobbying groups.”
The rejection of her choice also goes against the union’s own resolution.
“The Association reaffirms the constitutional right and obligation of all education employees, individually and/or collectively, to participate in all aspects of the democratic political process and encourages all education employees, to actively do so,” the resolution states. “The Association must resist any efforts to deny or suppress the exercise of those rights.”
The PSEA did not respond to a request for comment from TheDCNF.
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