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PSC Statement on 4/11/08 Court Decision

A federal judge issued a decision in a long-running case concerning the procedure under which agency fee payers may object to and be rebated a modest portion of the agency fee they pay to the union.  On April 11, 2008, U. S. Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom issued a decision on remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling concerning non-member objectors of the Professional Staff Congress not having to file annual objections to their agency fee or to identify the percentage of their agency fees which they dispute.  Prior to the Second Circuit’s ruling, PSC followed the common practice of requiring an annual request for the rebatable portion of agency fees paid.  The plaintiff had argued that such a procedural requirement was a violation of his First Amendment rights.  

On April 3, 2008, the PSC modified its agency fee rebate notice and procedure for consistency with existing rulings on the subject and the decision of the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

This long-running dispute concerns the procedure that agency fee payers in the bargaining unit represented by the PSC must follow in order to be rebated that portion of their agency fee which is spent for political or ideological purposes as opposed to expenses that are directly related to collective bargaining activity on behalf of the bargaining unit.  The original case was filed by Prof. David Seidemann in June 2002, and the PSC, in an effort to settle the case, complied with each request from Magistrate Bloom, and, each time, Professor Seidemann amended his complaint.  Magistrate Bloom dismissed Seidemann’s Third Amended Complaint in November 2005, which dismissal was overturned by the Court of Appeals.   

Rebatable, or non-chargeable, PSC expenses are largely related to the union’s efforts to lobby for and build public awareness of the need for a higher level of government funding in State and City budgets for members’ employer, The City University of New York.  Expenses related to other legislative, ideological and cultural activities of the union, not “germane” to collective bargaining are also non-chargeable.  For example, rebatable expenses include costs associated with members’ efforts to secure larger budgets for CUNY and the pension equity legislation. In FY06, 15% of union expenses were rebatable.  Similarly, objectors are rebated a percentage of that portion of affiliate dues (New York State United Teachers and American Federation of Teachers) deemed non-chargeable. 

An independent accounting firm prepares annual audits of chargeable and non-chargeable union expenses (as defined by existing legal rulings) for PSC.  PSC’s audit and those of its affiliates are available on the PSC’s website as they are completed.  Magistrate Judge Bloom’s decision calls upon PSC to provide fee-payers with “the basis for the allocation of both the chargeable and non-chargeable [to the fee payer] expenses.” The union will be working with its auditor to provide more detail in its upcoming audit and will continue to comply with judicial recommendations and rulings.

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