A member of the Pennsylvania Education Association has filed a complaint against the state's largest teacher's union for using her name in a mailer for Democratic governor candidate Tom Wolf in the closing days of the election.
Mary Trometter, of Williamsport, and the Fairness Center, a Harrisburg legal advocacy group for public workers at odds with the political activities of their union leaders, complained to the state labor-relations board Tuesday about a solicitation that urged her husband to "join Mary" in voting for Wolf Nov. 4.
She says she supported and voted for Gov. Corbett, and objects to the union's use of a portion of her dues for political advocacy she does not condone. Her lawyer, David Osborne, said PSEA and its national parent violated a state law prohibiting public-employee unions from using dues money "directly or indirectly" to advocate for or against a political candidate.
"The PSEA is exploiting my name and membership for their political causes," said Trometter, an assistant professor of culinary arts at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport. "It's bad enough that my dues are going to this, even worse that they are trying to get to my husband," she said.
Trometter and the Fairness Center also object to the use of the union's newsletter to run pro-Wolf material just before the election.
A spokesman for the PSEA said Pennsylvania's campaign finance laws allow unions to privately communicate with members and their families on any subject.
Interestingly, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the 2010 Citizens United Case, ruled that corporations and unions had a first amendment right to spend their money directly advocating for the defeat or election of candidates. It is unclear how the Pennsylvania law cited in the complaint would fare under that decisiion.