The CUNY professors’ free speech case could be the next blow to Big Labour

Union officials often complain that so-called “dark money” is allegedly used in politics to manipulate “the system” against workers.

Of course, how Big Labor managed to manipulate the system is ignored It is In doing so, they buy themselves undue political influence with funds that are withdrawn from employees under threat of termination if they refuse to pay.

This ability to blackmail ordinary workers into paying their wages or being fired still exists for private sector workers who are not covered by a state right-to-work law that guarantees they cannot be coerced into joining a union join to keep your job.

But a landmark US Supreme Court ruling five years ago ended the ability of union officials to mobilize millions of government employees to fund union policies.

In the case of Janus v. AFSCME’s 2018 judges ruled that the First Amendment protects public employees from being forced to subsidize government and union speech.

This is happening because of the behavior of government unions naturally political – the very purpose of a public sector union is to ‘negotiate’ the way government works.

Janus’ impact was enormous. The court ruled unconstitutional a legal system that union officials have used over the years to force workers to subsidize tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars worth of union political action.

Illinois State Clerk Mark Janus (left) speaks outside the Supreme Court building after the court ruled in his favor in Janus v. AFSCME on June 27, 2018.
Illinois State Clerk Mark Janus (left) speaks outside the Supreme Court building after the court ruled in his favor in Janus v. AFSCME on June 27, 2018.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Janus immediately released around 500,000 people on the argument of lawyers from the National Right to Work Foundation non-member unionized government employees who previously had to pay union dues as a working condition.

However, the struggle to fully enforce workers’ Janus rights continues to this day.

In over 50 follow-up cases, the Foundation’s legal assistance has directly helped enforce the rights of another 70,000 civil servants.

Since the Janus ruling, currently search suggestions that a total of about 1.2 million government employees have resigned or refused to join a union — about one-fifth of American public sector workers.

The exodus has resulted in an estimated loss of $733 million in annual union revenue.

CUNY PSC members protest Janus Supreme Court ruling.
CUNY PSC members protest Janus Supreme Court ruling in Manhattan.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This is a heavy blow to the union bosses. Yet even if Janus is fully enforced (and the regular filing of new lawsuits protecting Janus First Amendment rights of public employees suggests so). is not So far, this does not mean that the government union bosses’ undue political influence has ended.

In the vast majority of US states, even after Janus, the statutes still authorize union officials to impose their unified “representation” on all workers in a public sector workplace, even those who opposed the union or voted against it in the present.

This “monopoly bargaining power” gives union leaders control over the contracts, salaries, benefits and labor rules of countless workers who openly oppose them.

The CUNY professors in the Goldstein case are opposed to being represented by PSC officials who they claim made anti-Semitic remarks.
The CUNY professors in the Goldstein case are opposed to being represented by PSC officials who they believe made anti-Semitic remarks.
Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

It also means elected officials accountable to voters are forced to “negotiate” with union bosses over public policy, ratcheting up costs to the taxpayer while undermining efficiency and accountability.

Janus has done much to reduce the union bosses’ stranglehold on public sector workers’ rights and their undue influence over government.

It is clear, however, that union representatives must not be able to force public workers under their monopolistic “representation” in order to fully protect the rights of government employees under the First Amendment.

Fortunately, there is an excellent tool that courts can use to create such protection: Goldstein v. Professional Staff Congress (PSC), now in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Goldstein, six City University of New York professors seek to invalidate a New York State law that forces them to “represent” the PSC union.

The professors flatly refuse to be “represented” by radical PSC officials, who have personally attacked them and made statements the Jewish professors perceive as anti-Semitic.

They are asking the court to overturn the compulsory proxy system as a violation of professors’ freedom of association under the First Amendment.

Unions in the public sector should not be able to use their monopoly bargaining power over public workers to further their goals in government and politics, nor should they be able to force workers to pay to exercise that power.

Janus declared the latter to be unconstitutional five years ago.

Hopefully, five years from now, it will emerge that First Amendment public sector workers, too, have freedoms not to submit to union “representation” that they reject.

Mark Mix is ​​President of the National Right to Work Foundation.


DUSTIN JONES is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. DUSTIN JONES joined USTimeToday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with DUSTIN JONES by emailing

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