CUNY Professor Wins $250K from Faculty Union

Mitchell Langbert

  • Article
  • April 26, 2010

Last fall the CUNY faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), settled Professor David Seidemann's law suit by paying Seidemann's pro bono attorney, Jones, Day, $250,000 in legal fees, roughly 1.5% of the PSC's budget.  The suit concerned the PSC's use of dues to pursue political activities unrelated to contract negotiation or administration.  There have been periods when the PSC has released e-mails concerning the Iraqi War virtually every day.

At issue was the agency fee arrangment whereby non-members are compelled through the threat of state violence to pay union fees.  Seidemann's case went through several appeals, and was remanded to a magistrate sympathetic to the PSC at least twice. As the appellate court was mandating that more and more of the PSC's budget be reviewed for being "non-chargeable" to dissenting non-members, the PSC settled.  The PSC had originally claimed that less than one percent of its budget is used for unrelated political purposes.   The settlement occurred at a point where the amount had increased to over 14 percent.  Seidemann suspects that the actual number is much higher.   A witness heard a PSC spokesperson say that the percentage is between 15  and 20%.

In a statement to its executive committee the PSC calls its payment to Jones, Day and the increase from 0% to over 14% "a victory".  I wrote a two-page description of some of the details of the PSC's loss and the leadership's recidivist lying in Sharad Karkhanis's Patriot Returns newsletter that is released to 13,000 CUNY employees.

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