United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
WILLIAM WEYANDT, et. al., Plaintiffs,
PENNSYLVANIA STATE CORRECTIONS OFFICERS ASSOCIATIONS, et. al. Defendants.
John E. Jones III Judge
pending before this Court are two Motions to Dismiss filed by
Defendant Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association
(“PSCOA”), (Doc. 19), and by Defendants Thomas W.
Wolf, Michael Newsome, and Brian T. Lyman
(“Commonwealth Defendants”), (Doc. 20). Because
both Motions raise similar arguments, we will address them
together. For the reasons that follow, we shall grant both
the following from Plaintiffs' Complaint and assume it to
be true, as we must. Where Plaintiffs' Complaint is
lacking, we take from the record of the case, as we are
permitted to do.
instant case alleges a constitutional violation in a
Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) which
governs Plaintiffs' employment by the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs argue that provisions mandating
continued union membership and payment of union dues violate
their First Amendment rights as articulated by the Supreme
Court in Janus v. AFSCME. 138 S.Ct. 2448
(2018).Plaintiffs bring this claim on behalf of
themselves and a putative class of similarly situated
William Weyandt, Mark Mills, Chris Taylor, Brandon Westover,
and Cory Yedlosky are Commonwealth employees at Huntington
Correctional Institution. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 2). Their
positions are subject to the Public Employee Relations Act,
43 P.S. § 1101.301(1), under which Defendant PSCOA
negotiates the terms of Plaintiffs' employment with the
Commonwealth. Id. at ¶ 9-10. Defendant PSCOA is
a union which exclusively represents all Commonwealth
Correctional Officers and Forensic Security Employees in
collective bargaining with the Commonwealth. Id. at
¶ 3; 11. Commonwealth Defendants Thomas W. Wolf, Michael
Newsome, and Brian T. Lyman are Commonwealth officials being
sued in their official capacities as Governor, Secretary of
the Office of Administration, and Chief Accounting Officer,
respectively. Id. at ¶ 4-6. The assertedly
violative CBA was negotiated between Defendant PSCOA and the
Commonwealth and is effective from July 1, 2017 to June 30,
2020. Id. at ¶ 10.
object to two specific provisions of the CBA as violative of
their First Amendment rights: the
“membership-dues-deduction” clause and the
“Association Security” provision. Id. at
CBA's “membership-dues-deduction” clause
requires that union membership dues be deducted on a biweekly
basis from the pay of employees who request, in writing, that
such deductions be made. Id. at ¶ 18. The
clause further states that authorization for dues deduction
is irrevocable before the end of the current CBA.
Id. The “Association Security” provision
provides that union members may only resign their membership
in the fifteen (15) day period before the expiration date of
the current CBA. Id. at ¶ 19. When read
together, Plaintiffs argue, these provisions violate
Plaintiffs' First Amendment right to not subsidize union
speech, as articulated in Janus. Id. at
¶ 20; 138 S.Ct. 2448 (2018)
named Plaintiffs joined the union and signed dues deduction
authorization cards prior to June 27, 2018. (Doc. 1 at ¶
25). On or about December 17, 2018, Plaintiff William Weyandt
sent a letter to PSCOA in which he resigned his union
membership and revoked his dues deduction authorization.
Id. at ¶ 26. On December 21, 2018, PSCOA
informed Weyandt that his request would not be honored due to
the restrictions under the CBA and was told that he could
discontinue his union dues deductions in the 15 days prior to
the expiration of the CBA, as indicated in the
“Association Security” provision. Id. at
12, 2019, Plaintiffs' counsel notified PSCOA that
Plaintiffs Weyandt, Mills, Taylor, Westover, and Yedlosky
resigned their union memberships and revoked any dues
deduction authorization forms they had signed. Id.
at ¶ 28. On June 14, 2019, Plaintiffs initiated this
action, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as
nominal and compensatory damages. (Doc. 1).
that filing, Defendant PSCOA has undertaken significant steps
to alter their current membership practices under the CBA. On
or about July 19, 2019, PSCOA notified Plaintiffs that it was
honoring their requests to resign from the union and to
revoke their dues deduction authorizations. (Doc. 26 at 5).
At the same time, PSCOA notified the Commonwealth to cease
dues deductions for Plaintiffs. Id. On or about
August 9, 2019, PSCOA sent each named Plaintiff a check
reimbursing them for the amount of dues deductions
individually paid since they had sent written notification to
PSCOA of their intent to resign their memberships and revoke
their dues deduction authorizations. Id. at 6.
August 9, 2019, PSCOA and the Commonwealth also entered into
a Side Letter amending the CBA, providing that “any
member of [PSCOA] may resign from membership at any time by
notifying the Association in writing.” Id. at
7. The Side Letter also states that “upon notification
from [PSCOA], the Commonwealth shall cease [PSCOA] dues
deductions for said individual.” Id. at 8.
PSCOA filed the instant Motion to Dismiss on August 16, 2019.
(Doc. 19). Commonwealth Defendants also filed a separate
Motion to Dismiss on August 16, 2019. (Doc. 20). All
Defendants filed briefs in support on August 30, 2019 (Docs.
24; 26). Plaintiff filed a consolidated brief in opposition,
addressing the arguments raised by all Defendants on
September 13, 2019 (Doc. 30). PSCOA filed its reply brief on
September 26, 2019. (Doc. 32). Commonwealth Defendants filed
their reply brief on September 27, 2019. (Doc. 33). The
Motions are therefore ripe for disposition.