Goldstein v. PSC-CUNY: A Case to Protect Public Employees’ Freedom of Association

The case is currently pending at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

About the Case

For decades, government sector union bosses have relied on two pillars of coercion — forced dues and forced representation — to maintain their grip on power over America’s public servants and the public services citizens rely on.

While the Supreme Court in the 2018 National Right to Work Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court case recognized that forcing government employees to pay dues to stay employed violates the First Amendment, a new Foundation-assisted civil rights lawsuit from six City University of New York (CUNY) system professors may finally defeat union bosses’ privilege to impose union representation over the objections of public workers.

CUNY professors Jeffrey Lax, Michael Goldstein, Avraham Goldstein, Frimette Kass-Shraibman, Mitchell Langbert, and Maria Pagano sued the AFL-CIO-affiliated Professional Staff Congress (PSC) union, CUNY executives, and New York State officials in January, challenging New York State’s “Taylor Law” that gives unions monopoly bargaining privileges in public sector workplaces like CUNY.

The plaintiffs, most of whom are Jewish, oppose the union’s “representation” on the grounds that union officials and adherents have relentlessly denigrated their religious and cultural identity. Several of the plaintiffs exercised their Janus right to cut off dues after PSC officials rammed through a resolution in June 2021 that they found “anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel,” according to the lawsuit.

Discrimination Cited in Groundbreaking First Amendment Case

The lawsuit, which was filed with legal aid from both the National Right to Work Foundation and Pennsylvania-based Fairness Center, says: “Despite Plaintiffs’ resignations from membership in PSC, Defendants . . . acting in concert and under color of state law, force all Plaintiffs to continue to utilize PSC as their exclusive bargaining representative.”

The resolution is not nearly the worst example of PSC officials’ anti-Semitism, according to the lawsuit. Prof. Michael Goldstein asserts that adherents of PSC are waging a campaign to get him fired and have targeted him with harassment and threats such that he must have an armed guard accompany him on campus. Prof. Lax cites in the lawsuit a determination he has already received from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that “PSC leaders discriminated against him, retaliated against him, and subjected him to a hostile work environment on the basis of religion.”

While all of the professors take issue with PSC bosses’ radicalism, they also want to break free from internal conflicts within the large and disparate unit, which consists of full-time, part-time, and adjunct teaching employees and others. Prof. Kass-Shraibman states in the lawsuit that “instead of prioritizing the pay of full-time faculty, PSC expended resources advocating on behalf of teachers in Peru, graduate students at various other universities and the so-called ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement.”

On top of all that, Profs. Avraham Goldstein, Kass-Shraibman, and Langbert contend that PSC officials aren’t even respecting their First Amendment Janus rights. Although all three professors clearly indicated they wanted to cut off financial support to the union, the lawsuit explains that “Defendants PSC and the City . . . have taken and continue to take and/or have accepted and continue to accept union dues from [their] wages as a condition of employment . . .” in violation of Janus.

(Read more about Goldstein v. PSC/CUNY here)

Legal Documents

Goldstein v. Professional Staff Congress/CUNY Complaint: January 12, 2022

PSC/CUNY– Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss: April 20, 2022

PSC/CUNY– Defendant City of New York’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Their Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint: April 20, 2022

State of New York– Memorandum of Law in Support of the State Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the Complaint: April 20, 2022

PSC/CUNY– Defendant Motion to Dismiss the Complaint: April 20, 2022

Goldstein– Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss: May 24, 2022

State of New York– Reply Memorandum of Law in Further Support of the State Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the Complaint: June 14, 2022

PSC/CUNY– Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss: June 14, 2022

Related Video

News Releases

NYC University Professors Challenge Forced Union ‘Representation’ in Lawsuit Detailing Union Anti-Semitic Speech and Actions | January 13, 2022

Selected Media Coverage

Antisemitism Runs Amok at CUNY as Teachers Fight for Janus Rights | September 19, 2022 | National Review

New York professors sue to stop forced dues extraction by ‘anti-Israel’ union | March 09, 2022 | The College Fix

CUNY professors sue faculty union over controversial anti-Israel resolution | January 25, 2022 | The Times of Israel

NYC professors sue over forced representation by ‘antisemitic’ union | January 24, 2022 | Fox News

CUNY professors’ lawsuit shows injustice of forced union representation | January 21, 2022 | Special to the USA TODAY Network by National Right to Work President Mark Mix

I’m Stuck With an Anti-Semitic Labor Union |January 20, 2022 | Wall Street Journal

CUNY staff members sue to leave union, cite ‘anti-Semitism’ | January 20, 2022 | New York Amsterdam News

6 Professors Sue CUNY, Union Claiming Anti-Semitism | January 19, 2022 | Inside Higher Ed

In lawsuit, CUNY professors accuse faculty union of being ‘anti-Semitic, anti-Israel’ | January 19, 2022 | Jewish News Syndicate

CUNY Professors Sue To Break With Anti-Semitic Union | January 18, 2022 | Washington Free Beacon

CUNY professors sue union, want to disassociate over anti-Semitic stance | January 18, 2022 | The Center Square

CUNY Profs File Lawsuit Against Law Forcing Them to Be Members of Union That Passed Anti-Israel Resolution | January 17, 2022 | Jewish Journal

CUNY professors sue ‘anti-Semitic and anti-Israel’ union | January 15, 2022 | New York Post

Source: Source: National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation, Inc.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.