College Professors ‘Bring Lawsuit’ Objecting To Compulsory Membership In Anti-Semitic Labor Union

A group of six professors at the City University of New York (CUNY) are suing the university because they object to being forced to join a union that has willfully ignored anti-Semitism.

Jeffrey Lax is one of the professors seeking a judicial order allowing the group to terminate their compulsory membership in the Professional Staff Congress union. He says that it is “abhorrent” that state law in New York forces him to be represented by a union with anti-Semitic viewpoints that he finds fundamentally objectionable.

Lax was part of around 300 CUNY professors who resigned from the union last year when it formally condemned Israel. The plaintiffs are also seeking reimbursement of the union dues they have been forced to pay since leaving the union.

The plaintiff professors rely primarily on the Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark 2018 case Janus v. AFSCME that found it unconstitutional for public employee unions to force workers to pay membership dues involuntarily.

Lax stated that being forced to have an “anti-Zionist organization” represent him is immoral as a Zionist. He and the other plaintiffs said they had done everything to “break away” from the union, but it still bargained in their names.

The Professional Staff Congress and CUNY have faced claims of anti-Semitism for many years. Linda Sarsour, a strident anti-Israel Palestinian activist, was invited to speak at the university’s commencement in 2017, drawing protests from state and federal Republican lawmakers. Last year, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that the university has allowed or promoted an “anti-Semitic environment” for years.

The institution, two state officials, and the union were named defendants in the complaint filed in federal district court in New York City. According to the complaint, the defendants are utilizing the force of state legislation to force the plaintiffs to use the union as their only alternative for collective bargaining, notwithstanding the union’s anti-Semitic stance.

Last May, the union brought the controversy to a boiling point when it condemned Israel for counter-attacking against Hamas rocket attacks. The university after that hosted a panel discussion on “Palestine Solidarity” as part of what CUNY called the school’s “struggle against racism and colonialism.”

The plaintiffs were represented by the Fairness Center, a public interest law firm, whose president, Nathan McGrath, stated that Jewish professors and others who oppose anti-Semitism should not be forced to join a group that engages in profoundly anti-Israel political action.