Union Orders Dues Donated to ACLU.(NATION)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 6, 2002 | Go to article overview

Union Orders Dues Donated to ACLU.(NATION)


Byline: Ellen Sorokin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A public school employees union in Washington state has ordered a part-time school bus driver to send his annual dues to the American Civil Liberties Union, despite the driver's religious objections to the national organization and its stances on social issues.

The Rev. Ivan Poisel, bus driver in Sunnyside, Wash., and pastor of the Church of God Pentecostal congregation, has religious objections to the charities and activities the Public School Employees (PSE) union supports, and has asked the union to donate his $15 in dues to a local food bank called Second Harvest.

But the union has declined his request, saying it recognizes only the ACLU, the country's largest public-interest firm, and will send his dues there. Both parties are expected to appear at a hearing next month before the state's Public Employee Relations Committee (PERC), which will decide where Mr. Poisel's money will go.

"I feel like this is religious persecution because I've taken a stand," Mr. Poisel said in an interview yesterday. "The union's demands are ridiculous."

Union officials defended their decision. "This is not an adversarial situation in the least," said Rick Chisa, PSE's communications director. "Mr. Poisel is voicing his preference, and we're voicing our preference to what charity his dues should be sent. We're at a point right now where we just disagree with his preference."

Mr. Poisel said he doesn't want his dues going to the ACLU because he says the organization is "pro-abortion and was instrumental in getting prayer out of schools." "It's an anti-Christian organization," Mr. Poisel said. "They're against everything I stand for."

The issue centers on a state law that requires union officials and public-school employees who identify themselves as religious objectors to mutually approve a charity before any dues are sent to support it.

PSE, which represents about 26,000 Washington state school employees, requires public-school employees to either be union members or pay mandatory fees. …

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