But Union Bosses Retain Vast Power Over Faculty They Despise
Top officials of the American Federation of Teachers-affiliated Professional Staff Congress (PSC) union, who wield monopoly-bargaining power over faculty members at the City University of New York (CUNY), are notorious for taking radical stances.
The arguably anti-Semitic stances PSC bigwigs have taken with regard to long-running conflicts in the Middle East are cases in point. It is the PSC brass’ plain view, for example, that Jews today have no right to reside in the lands where the state of Israel was established three quarters of a century ago and where many of their ancestors resided for thousands of years.
Not surprisingly, many CUNY faculty members, Jewish and non-Jewish, find such PSC positions and actions related to them to be deeply offensive.
In recent months, negative public attention, declining membership, and even legal actions haven’t deterred the PSC brass from virulently attacking Jews and other citizens who support Israel’s military actions against Hamas militants in Gaza.
Decrease in Dues to PSC Attributed to Janus Decision
According to an October 25 report published by The City, a Big Apple-focused news organization, the share of CUNY’s roughly 18,000 faculty members who fork over a portion of their paychecks to PSC union bosses has fallen dramatically since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Janus decision in June 2018.
In Janus, a case successfully argued on behalf of an independent-minded Illinois civil servant by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney Bill Messenger, the High Court found that forced union dues and fees extracted from public employees as a job condition violate the First Amendment.
Prior to Janus, all CUNY faculty were forced to pay money to PSC kingpins to keep their jobs, even though roughly 25% of instructional employees had chosen not to be union members.
Today, more than 6,000 CUNY faculty members are exercising their Janus rights and refusing to allow any funds for the PSC to be deducted from their paychecks. In addition to the thousands of nonmembers who were set free by Janus, PSC membership has fallen by nearly 2,000 since the decision.
PSC’s Anti-Semitism Under New Spotlight With Start Of Israel-Hamas War
Moreover, six CUNY professors, five of them Jewish, have not only ceased forking over money to the PSC, but also undertaken an effort to have the New York statute allowing monopoly bargaining in the public sector, the Taylor law, ruled unconstitutional.
The six, led by Michael Goldstein, maintain that they have been targeted for their political and religious beliefs in support of Zionism. They documented multiple acts of intimidation before launching their lawsuit in January 2022, with assistance from attorneys for the Foundation and the Harrisburg, Pa.-based Fairness Center.
After October 7’s terrorist attacks ushered in a new war between Israel and Hamas, a mass email was sent to faculty members promoting fiery anti-Israel rallies across multiple CUNY campuses.
Law professor Jeffrey Lax, a party to the lawsuit, said it was a “99% certainty” the email was sent with union bosses’ approval, despite their denials.
Right to Work Committee Advancing Legislative Remedies For Government-Union Abuses
On November 20, the Goldstein plaintiffs’ case was heard by a panel of three federal judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The outcome of that hearing is still pending as of publication of this Newsletter.
“A district court sadly refused to see any constitutional problem with a law forcing Jewish professors to associate with a fiercely anti-Israel labor union. But there is hope that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, or the U.S. Supreme Court, may show greater wisdom,” said National Right to Work Committee and Foundation President Mark Mix.
“And citizens who are outraged by the legally-mandated forced association exposed in the Goldstein case do not have to rely exclusively on the courts to end this abuse. The Right to Work Committee and its allies are actively promoting legislative remedies.
“In 2021, for example, the Committee helped secure passage into law in Arkansas of a measure prohibiting Big Labor from seizing monopoly-bargaining power over public servants who work at schools, colleges, many state agencies, and courts.
“Barring union monopoly bargaining in federal, state and local government workplaces is the ideal means to level the playing field for taxpayers and independent-minded public employees. This could be accomplished through litigation or legislation.”