Former ECC President sues union for defamation

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The former president of Erie Community College is fighting back against a union representing faculty at the school, accusing them of defamation.

In a new lawsuit, David Balkin accused the Faculty Federation Erie Community College and its president, Andrew Sako, of smearing him online. The lawsuit said Sako allegedly published statements to the union’s website saying the former president engaged in “anti-union, anti-humanistic antics” “that contributed to a negative public image of SUNY Erie.”

“South campus has been greatly devalued by the ‘deactivation,’ to use our former president’s term, of South Campus and the construction of the new stadium,” the union’s July 2023 update online said.

These statements were also issued in emails to union members, the lawsuit says.

Balkin, former ECC President, to be paid until October

The FFECC’s July 2023 update said the following:

“The FFECC, and others pushed back on the conduct of the previous president’s comments and actions: his deception, slashing and burning in order to dismantle the college and rebuild it into a low-rate trade school, and ten months of blaming the FFECC, and the old, lazy faculty for any and all problems at SUNY Erie. We fought until the board and others saw his true colors and realized they hired the wrong person!”

FFECC July 2023 update

“The statements were intended to harm the Plaintiff’s reputation,” the lawsuit states. “The statements were false or made with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity of such statements and were made with malicious intent.”

The lawsuit says that the FFECC did not stop Sako from making defamatory statements about Balkin, even after being made aware of his emails and web post.

“Plaintiff had a good reputation in the community as a college president and was known as
having a good character,” the lawsuit says.

Balkin, who served as ECC’s President from February to December 2022, is demanding that the union’s July update be taken down or changed. He is also seeking $300,000, or an amount to be determined, in punitive damages.

When asked for a statement, ECC had no comment, as of Thursday afternoon.

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Former ECC President sues union for defamation

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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