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New York professors sue to stop forced dues extraction by ‘anti-Israel’ union

The CUNY professors, five of whom are Jewish, object to the union’s stance against Israel

Six City University of New York professors have filed a lawsuit with the assistance of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and The Fairness Center to fight forced unionization.

The professors object to the political positions of the union, which includes a resolution which they have called “anti-Israel.”

The lawsuit said the state’s Taylor Law, which requires union representation even though none of the professors are members of the Professional Staff Congress labor group, violates their First Amendment rights. A hearing has yet to be set as of March 7, according to NRTW spokesperson Jacob Comello.

They say the continued deduction of dues from their paychecks violates the 2018 Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME which ruled government workers cannot be forced to pay “agency fees” to unions.

Plaintiffs Avraham Goldstein (pictured), Michael Goldstein, Frimette Kass-Shraibman, Mitchell Langbert, Jeffrey Lax and Maria Pagano “strongly object to being exclusively represented by PSC and forced to associate with other employees within their assigned bargaining unit,” according to the lawsuit.

The professors, all of whom are Jewish except Pagano, oppose the union “based largely on its ideological and political advocacy.”

MORE: PSC membership drops after Janus decision

The PSC’s media team has not responded to a media inquiry sent in the past week that asked for comment on the lawsuit. The College Fix also asked Francis Clark, the listed media rep, about members who object to the union taking stances on political issues not related to typical labor concerns such as insurance, wages and working conditions.

The plaintiffs take issue with a June 2021 “Resolution in Support of the Palestinian People” which they consider “anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel.”

“Since the Resolution, PSC has continued to advocate positions and take actions that Plaintiffs believe to be anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel,” the lawsuit stated. This has been undertaken “in a manner that harms the Jewish plaintiffs and singles them out for opprobrium, hatred, and harassment based on their religious, ethnic, and/or moral beliefs and identity.”

The CUNY professors resigned their union memberships and asked that union dues no longer be collected, but the PSC took the dues anyway as a condition of employment.

The plaintiffs are seeking refunds of the “dues seized from the wages of Plaintiffs A. Goldstein, Kass-Shraibman, and Langbert” in violation of their First Amendment Janus rights and compensatory damages for “Defendants’ unlawful interference with and deprivation” of the professors’ constitutional rights.

Forced unionization violates ‘fundamental beliefs’

The dues requirement is “deeply offensive” to the beliefs of the plaintiffs, according to a statement from National Right to Work Foundation’s president Mark Mix.

[T]he state of New York mandates that they associate with union officials and other union members who take positions that are deeply offensive to these professors’ most fundamental beliefs,” Mix said in a statement shared with The College Fix through the worker freedom group’s media team.

“New York State’s Taylor Law authorizes such unconscionable compulsion,” NRTW’s president said. “It is time federal courts fully protect the rights of government employees to freely exercise their freedom to dissociate from an unwanted union, whether their objections are religious, cultural, financial, or otherwise.”

MORE: CUNY union takes up anti-Israel resolution

IMAGE: The Fairness Center

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About the Author
Ashley Carnahan -- USC Annenberg