Petition Regarding Union Communication on LaGuardia E-mail, November 2007 sign now

Petition Regarding Union Communication on LaGuardia E-mail

November 2007

Whereas President Mellow wrote to the PSC Chapter Chair on October 30 ordering her to cease using the Colleges e-mail system, or other computer resources, to send notices of PSC meetings or to carry out other union business; and

Whereas the President cited as the basis for her decision CUNYs Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources adopted by the Board of Trustees on January 29, 2007; and

Whereas the first two sentences of CUNYs Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources read: CUNYs computer resources are dedicated to the support of the universitys mission of education, research and public service. In furtherance of this mission, CUNY respects, upholds and endeavors to safeguard the principles of academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry; and

Whereas CUNYs Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources does not prohibit communication among CUNY employees on a public forum created through the use of CUNY computer resources; and

Whereas the Groupwise system constitutes a public forum at LaGuardia Community College; and

Whereas CUNYs Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources does not prohibit the conduct of union business via the e-mail system or other computer resources; and

Whereas it has been the past practice at LaGuardia for union messages to be posted in an unfettered manner on Groupwise and for communication about union business to be carried out through the LaGuardia e-mail system; and

Whereas Vice President Freidmutter, in an e-mail message to the LaGuardia community dated November 6 offering to provide more information about the context of [President Mellows] letter, linked that letter not to CUNYs Policy on Computer Resources but to a request from CUNY Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Frederick Shaffer, who has notified the PSC that use of the Colleges email system should be addressed during current negotiations for the next contract; and

Whereas the unions communication with its members via campus e-mail is a long-established practice protected by the rights of free speech and free association, a practice that cannot now, in the midst of contract negotiations, be abrogated by one side in those negotiations in order to extract concessions from the other side; and

Whereas the Presidents order is a discriminatory singling out of union communications and content amidst the multitude of daily, personal, political and non-college-related communications and content transmitted over the Groupwise system, communications that help to bind together our working community; and

Whereas union members may continue to access Groupwise and their CUNY e-mail accounts, but they are prohibited from speaking about union matters; and

Whereas the prohibition of union-related messages on the Groupwise system and the prohibition of communication with other union members about union business through CUNY-operated computer resources is an act of prior restraint and censorship; and

Whereas such prior restraint and censorship is repugnant to the spirit of community, free speech, freedom of expression and inquiry, and freedom of association, which should characterize a public university; and

Whereas the PSC memberships right to communicate with each other and directly with PSC officials is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8 of the New York State Constitution, and the New York State Taylor Law; now


Therefore the undersigned find President Mellows actions to be an act of prior restraint and censorship repugnant to the values of open and free communication that are the foundation of higher education and hostile to the rights of labor organizations and their members and a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 8 of the New York State Constitution; and

Therefore we, the undersigned, call on President Mellow to immediately rescind her prohibition on union communication.

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Chris MoodyBy:
Entertainment and MediaIn:
Petition target:
Gail Mellow, President, LaGuardia Community College

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