update deskU.S. News

Appeals court rules Jewish faculty can’t quit union they say is antisemitic

The case appears destined for the U.S. Supreme Court, with potentially profound effects on public employee-union relationships.

Shepard Hall, a Gothic revival masterpiece from 1907 designed by George Browne Post, at City College of New York, part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Credit: John Penney/Shutterstock.
Shepard Hall, a Gothic revival masterpiece from 1907 designed by George Browne Post, at City College of New York, part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Credit: John Penney/Shutterstock.

Jewish professors at the City University of New York will continue to be represented by a union that they say advocates for Jew-hatred, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City ruled on Monday.

Six professors at the public university system—five of them Jews—will remain represented by the Professional Staff Congress union, the court ruled, affirming a lower court’s decision that the professors are bound to the union’s exclusive representation of the professors’ bargaining unit.

The union endorsed a resolution on June 10, 2021, that supported the anti-Israel BDS movement and labeled the Jewish state an “apartheid” regime. The professors resigned from the union, which they felt had supported an antisemitic resolution.

The Second Circuit ruled that state law requires the professors to accept the union’s representation. The plaintiffs argued that the mandate violates their rights to free speech and equal protection under the First and 14th amendments, respectively.

The professors plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the high court decides to hear the case and then decide in their favor, it could dramatically alter the relationship between public sector employees and unions.

“New York law says our clients, most of whom are Jewish, must rely on a union that has taken a public stand against Israel to negotiate on their behalf,” stated Nathan McGrath, president and general counsel of the Fairness Center, a public interest firm representing the professors.

“These professors are being forced to associate with a union that they believe hates them,” he added. “It’s hard to imagine a clearer illustration of the harm caused by exclusive representation.”

The Fairness Center is working together with National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys on the case.

Following the resignation of the professors, the union continued deducting dues from their paychecks. After the professors took legal action, the union returned the money and stopped deducting further dues under a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which held that non-member public employees cannot be forced to pay union fees.

The union continues to offer the professors exclusive representation under the law despite their resignation, which bars the plaintiffs from seeking alternate representation or representing themselves, they say.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates