University of Maryland professor in trouble for being paid Union shill 

Inside Higher Ed reports:

A University of Maryland professor has pulled his institution into a heated labor debate in California, prompting a rebuke from administrators and inviting questions about his own conflicts of interest.

As a paid consultant for Service Employees International, the nation's fastest growing labor union, Fred Feinstein recently wrote a legal opinion suggesting that California health care workers could receive “less favorable” benefits if they left SEIU for another union. Feinstein penned his opinion on university letterhead, which was then photocopied and used by SEIU as campaign literature, urging workers to stay on as members.

Listing his credentials, Feinstein mentioned his status as a senior fellow and visiting professor in Maryland’s School of Public Policy, along with detailing his prior service as general counsel to the National Labor Relations Board. What Feinstein did not mention, however, was that he’s on the SEIU payroll and received about $240,000 from the union and one of its affiliates, Change to Win, in 2007 and 2008, according to federal filings.

The University of Maryland is none to amused about Feinstein's conflict of interest tarnishing the school's reputation:

“The University of Maryland is being thrust into the middle of this dispute in a way that not only compromises the University of Maryland, but calls into question the independence of academia in general,” said John Borsos, vice president of NUHW. “Fred Feinstein, writing a letter on the University of Maryland’s letterhead, certainly gave the impression of speaking with the authority of a university on the dispute.”

William Powers, executive dean of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, said Wednesday that Feinstein “violated university policy” with his actions.

“In writing and submitting the letter, Mr. Feinstein was not acting within his role as a university faculty member but in his personal capacity as an adviser to the union,” Powers wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. “It was thus a mistake for him to use university letterhead or in any other way to imply that the university was engaged in this matter or stood behind his opinions."

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