Hudson Valley is trying to change to the United States Constitution by withholding politician paychecks.
“Money talks. If we can take [politician] money and make them feel the loss, we should be able to make whatever changes we want,” said Larry Clipin, college president.
Funding for community colleges has been dropping despite rising costs of living. The rising cost of living is due to inflation, however there has been no corresponding increase in funding from state governments to make up the difference.
This lack of funding is causing colleges across the state to make cuts. Because college officials do not want to raise tuition or make budget cuts, they have chosen to seek an amendment to the Constitution of the United States through paycheck withholding.
The legality of this idea is in question according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which states that an employer cannot withhold an employee’s paycheck that is due for work already completed.
According to Becky Walsh, federal attorney, the college has no right, legal or otherwise, in this area.
“I don’t even think that their chosen course of action is legal, much less practical,” she said.
Not only is the legality shaky, but politicians have been described as “independent contractors” on several occasions by college officials themselves. If they are, indeed, independent contractors, then, according to Hudson Valley officials, they are not answerable to the college.
“Withholding paychecks is completely uncalled for, and I doubt that it will do much beyond pissing people off,” said Governor Mike Wales. “In addition, using paychecks as leverage to get us to change our minds is illegal and underhanded.”
Fred Blair, college vice president, disagrees.
“We aren’t using the paychecks as leverage. We are, however, holding them until we get more funding for Hudson Valley, and we will not release them until that happens,” Blair said.
“Lawmakers are one of the few public servicemen who get paid for what they do, and it is really our earnest desire not to jeopardize that by emphasizing their paychecks. Others might wonder why they are not getting paid for their service,” said Clipin.
College officials have also warned that if the paycheck withholding does not achieve the results they want, Hudson Valley will make changes in its constitution to force a change in the United States Constitution. The Hudson Valley constitution supersedes the federal one in this instance, which puts state and federal lawmakers in a tough position.
Politicians still have not made a decision either way as battles ensue in legislative halls. Timothy McNight, secretary of the U.S. Treasury, said, “I honestly can’t tell you which way this will go. Do we break from Hudson Valley? Do we do what they want? Do we retaliate somehow? It’s all up in the air.”
Wales said, “The United States Constitution was approved long before Hudson Valley’s foundation by people who cared for this nation. In addition, Hudson Valley already approved the wording in the Constitution and has been operating under it for 10 years. Hudson Valley has not only gone back on its word, but the college’s conduct has been unprofessional and has near destroyed my faith in its administration.”