District Court Dismisses Janus-Based Lawsuit Against Symphony and Union – Ballotpedia News

The district court rejects janus-lawsuit against symphony association, union

On August 19, Judge Joseph F. Leeson Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed a januslawsuit brought by a member of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra against the American Federation of Musicians, Local 45, and the Allentown Symphony Association.

The trial

Glen Wilkofsky, titular musician of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, sued the association and the symphony syndicate in April 2022. Wilkofsky claimed the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 Janus v. AFSCME The ruling is expected to apply to symphony employees since the union has been certified as an exclusive representative under Pennsylvania’s Public Employee Relations Act (PERA) and has received government grants. Wilkofsky’s attorneys wrote, “Under PERA, a ‘public employer’ includes ‘any non-profit organization or institution and any charitable, religious, scientific, literary, recreational, health, educational or social institution receiving grants or credits from local, state or federal governments. ‘” In janusJudge Samuel Alito wrote, “States and public sector unions can no longer impose agency fees on unwilling employees.

In April, morning callPeter Hall wrote:[Bethlehem labor attorney David] Deratzian said the lawsuit was clearly a test case and could end up in the Supreme Court.

For more on Wilkofsky’s trial, read the April 22 edition of Union Station.


On June 29, 2022, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Leeson Jr. granted defendants’ motions to dismiss the case and gave Wilkofsky 14 days to file an amended complaint. Leeson wrote, “Wilkofsky has failed to allege sufficient facts to show that the defendants are state actors. The impugned conduct in this case is private conduct.

Lesson wrote:

“Although Symphony is a private entity, it is considered a ‘public employer’ for the purposes of PERA. But is that enough to turn the defendants’ actions in this case into state action? After considering PERA, the Court then turns to this same question. …

“Defendants do not exercise any function delegated by the State, nor are they connected with the policies or management of the government. … The leadership, constitution, operations and priorities of the union in this case are all determined by its members, not by the state.… The union “has not been delegated any function of the state, nor does it depend on the material resources of the state to carry out its own activities. Furthermore, although public sector collective bargaining is sanctioned by the Commonwealth, [the union] does not play a management role in the development of government policies or management decisions. … All these facts would indicate that [the Defendants are] not a state actor.

Wilkofsky filed an amended complaint on July 13.

On August 19, Leeson granted the defendants’ subsequent motions to dismiss and closed the case. He wrote: “The Amended Complaint is substantially the same as the Complaint. And plaintiff’s argument alleging state action is the same: “The Symphony is a state actor because the Pennsylvania Legislature, in the exercise of its sovereign prerogative, specifically recognized the Symphony as a public employer. , and therefore a state actor.”[…]Consequently, the Court does not consider it necessary to repeat the grounds for dismissal which it has already given in a previous opinion.

President Barack Obama (D) nominated Leeson to the court in 2014.

According morning call‘s Daniel Patrick Sheehan, Wilkofsky plans to appeal. Federal rules of appeals procedure state that a notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the issuance of the order.

The file name and number are Wilkofsky v. American Federation of Musicians, Local 45 et al. (5:22-cv-01424).

What we read

  • Los Angeles Times“California Lawmakers Reject Bill Allowing Staff to Unionize at State Capitol”, August 31, 2022
  • The Philadelphia Investigator“A Better Life”, August 31, 2022
  • Gallup“U.S. Endorsement of Unions at Highest Level Since 1965,” August 30, 2022
  • The central square“Labour Amendment Remains on November Ballot After Court Blocks Petition”, August 30, 2022
  • Seattle weather“Seattle Public Schools Ready to Vote on Strike”, August 30, 2022
  • KING 5“Proposal to allow legal action ordering Kent teachers back to work fails”, August 29, 2022
  • Opinion of the CSJ“And now the union would like a word in private”, August 26, 2022
  • The central square“A Group of Illinois Citizens Forms to Oppose Labor Amendment They Say Will Increase Taxes”, August 25, 2022

The big picture

Number of relsevant bills by state

We are currently monitoring 149 pieces of legislation dealing with trade union policy for public sector employees. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates more relevant invoices. Click here for a full list of all invoices we track.

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills according to the partisan status of the sponsor(s)

Recent legislative actions

Below is a comprehensive list of relevant legislative action taken since our last issue.

  • California AB1577: This bill would allow state legislative employees to organize and bargain collectively.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • The Senate approved on August 30. Ordered in the Assembly for adoption of the Senate amendments. Died during the hearing of the Assembly’s Public Employment and Pensions Committee on 31 August.
  • California AB1714: This bill would allow unions representing excluded government employees to seek arbitration from the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Listed and presented to the governor on August 30.
  • California AB2556: This bill would change the amount of time a local public agency employer has to implement a final offer after an investigators recommendation is submitted in the event of a dispute between the employer and the employee organization.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • The Senate approved on August 29. The Assembly approved the Senate amendments on August 30.
  • California SB931: This bill would allow a union to bring an action in the Employment Public Relations Commission against a public employer allegedly in violation of California Government Code Section 3550 and would establish civil penalties for of violation. Section 3550 prohibits public employers from discouraging union membership.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • The Senate approved the Assembly’s amendments on August 30. Ordered at the capture and registration office.

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Andrew B. Reiter