FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Oct. 21, 2015
CHICAGO – The Part-time Faculty Association of Columbia College Chicago (P-fac) filed suit against Columbia College in federal court Wednesday morning, alleging the college has unlawfully sought to influence the free exercise of labor rights by P-fac members.
The suit is brought under a provision of the federal Taft-Hartley Act, which makes bribery, graft, and conflict of interest payments illegal between employers and unions. While P-fac’s suit seeks only to stop ongoing and future acts by the college, another provision of the Act provides for significant criminal penalties upon prosecution by the United States.
The attorney filing the suit, Michael Persoon of Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd., said, “It’s no secret that P-fac and the college are in the midst of labor disputes, and what this suit protects against is efforts by the college to undermine the political solidarity of P-fac through unlawful support or campaigning to influence P-fac members.”
P-fac President Diana Vallera added, “We will not stand by while the college interferes in internal union business and tries to influence our members or undermine the union. We will protect our members’ rights and interests and take every available action including charges at the National Labor Relations Board, arbitrating grievances, and when we need to, we will file charges in federal court.”
Columbia College has already been cited with 30 violations of federal labor law, including a complaint issued against Columbia College for refusing to bargain in good faith, restraining and coercing employees and discriminating in hiring and tenure decisions. As a member-run union, P-fac is fighting for a college that serves its students, faculty, and community consistent with Columbia’s mission.
In September, P-fac members conducted a no-confidence vote against the Columbia administration, and 85 percent of the members who voted cast ballots of no confidence.