Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Letter in the Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education printed my letter concerning David Seidemann's case here:

To the Editor:

The remarks of union officials quoted in "Federal Judge Rules Against Faculty Union on Refunds of Nonmembers' Dues" (The Chronicle, April 25) are misleading. There have been considerable "soft" activities by the leadership of the faculty union at the City University of New York involving protests, demonstrations, and conferences about the war in Iraq. The leadership is paid salaries to represent the faculty, but much of the leaders' time has been spent in antiwar and other political protests.

To be fair, agency dues payments should be reduced by the proportion that salaries for the union leadership's time spent on unrelated political activities bears to the union's total budget.

The article quotes Christopher M. Callagy, a union attorney, as saying that the union's chief political efforts have been in Albany. The union leadership has many times notified faculty members about antiwar protests via CUNY's e-mail system and used union officials' time and union resources for such protests, conferences, and related activities.

Professor David E. Seidemann's case does not go far enough. Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, on which Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom relies in Seidemann v. Bowen, anticipates that agency payers may be free riders because they receive the benefit of collective bargaining but would not contribute to the costs of negotiation if they did not pay dues. But the Professional Staff Congress has won no benefits for its membership. Rather, because of its adversarial approach, it has managed to diminish faculty wages and benefits relative to virtually every other New York union.

Mitchell Langbert
Associate Professor of Business, Management, and Finance
Brooklyn College
City University of New York
Brooklyn, N.Y.

No comments: