SESPA Activist Wins Court Case

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SESPA Activist Wins Court Case

by Charlie Schwartz

‘Science for the People’ Vol. 5, No. 3, May 1973, p. 45

The Alameda County Superior Court ruled that Charlie Schwartz (a founder of SESPA) had been removed from his job at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory because of his political activities; this was a violation of his Constitutional rights and therefore he must be reinstated and compensated for lost income. The action was sponsored by AFT Local 1474. The following are excerpts from a statement by Charlie.

The reason why I was singled out by the Laboratory management and fired from my summer research position was because of my political activities. My stand in defense of the Constitutional principle of free speech must be described as a very traditional political position. However, more frequently, I have been a spokesman for the politically radical views, seeing that the fruits of modern science and technology are too often being used in ways that are harmful rather than helpful for human society. As long as the administration could get away with this obviously punitive action, it stood as a clear warning to all other working scientists and engineers that they must remain subservient to their bosses. I hope that my court victory may now give to many other science students and scientific workers the encouragement to devote themselves to the cause of social responsibility as their highest professional priority. I intend to continue my efforts to oppose the destructive uses of science, to promote the humane avenues of technological development and to be involved in the larger political movement.

The second feature of this case concerns the function of the University. One might ask why the faculty and the administration of the University, with all their avowed dedication to the principles of academic freedom, did not set this matter right earlier. Indeed, at various times I had appealed the Director’s actions to at least eight faculty and administration groups, including: a Grievance Hearing Officer; Chancellor Heyns; and President Hitch. The administrative and faculty establishments of the University are more accurately described as interlocking bureaucracies, devoted to protecting the self interests of their own members, than as intellectual paragons devoted to the principles of truth and justice. The grievance procedures have often been criticized as a sham for their lack of fairness and due process. For the future, I look to the efforts of my own AFT union and of others on this campus who are seeking a greater measure of dignity and justice ….