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Six professors at the City University of New York have filed suit against the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing them, claiming the organization is anti-Semitic and anti-Israel and that a New York state law prevents them from ending their association with the PSC.
Plaintiffs claim that ongoing representation by the PSC is in violation of their First Amendment rights, and they are also asking the court to bar the union from continuing to collect dues from them.
The lawsuit, filed last week in the Southern District of New York, was brought forward by Avraham Goldstein, Michael Goldstein, Frimette Kass-Shraibman, Mitchell Langbert, Jeffrey Lax and Maria Pagano. Five of the six plaintiffs, the lawsuit notes, are Jewish. At the heart of the issue, court filings show, is a June 2021 PSC resolution supporting the people of Palestine and condemning lethal force and the destruction of property at the hands of Israeli soldiers.
Following this resolution, several plaintiffs immediately resigned their PSC membership. However, under a New York state law, they continue to be represented by the PSC.
The lawsuit references this resolution alongside other allegedly anti-Semitic actions and notes that despite resigning from the PSC, the plaintiffs continue to be represented by the union. “They have no faith and confidence in PSC’s ability to represent them as their exclusive, fiduciary representative, and they desire to end such forced representation,” part of the lawsuit reads.
CUNY is also named as a defendant, in addition to the PSC and several New York State officials.
The six CUNY professors suing PSC are receiving free legal assistance from two antiunion organizations, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Fairness Center.
A PSC spokesperson described the lawsuit as “meritless” and “just another attempt to erode the power of organized labor to fight for better pay and working conditions and a more just society.” The PSC statement described the Right to Work Foundation as “notoriously right wing” with an agenda “rooted in white supremacy” and noted that while anti-Semitism is on the rise, “the deeply held convictions and differences of opinion that some PSC members have about Israel and Palestine should not be distorted in service of an anti-union agenda.”