CUNY Professor Wins $250K from Faculty Union

Mitchell Langbert

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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