Academic Unions: Join or Say, 'Goodbye to Your Career'

National Association of Scholars

NEW YORK, NY, January 29, 2019 - The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has filed an amicus brief supporting St. Cloud State University Political Science Professor Kathleen Uradnik’s petition for appeal in her fight to secure her constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and association. The petition was filed with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals after Minnesota Federal District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson denied the motion for preliminary injunction in the case of Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization, et al.

Professor Uradnik’s petition to the Eighth Circuit argues that forcing her to pay union dues violates her First Amendment rights. NAS is represented in its amicus brief by William Jonathan Haun.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 secured the rights of nonunion workers not to be forced to pay union dues,” said Peter W. Wood, president of NAS. “But the ruling left open several widespread abuses, including the power of faculty unions to trample the rights of individual faculty members to speak for themselves. Some unions enjoy the ability to represent their opinions as the exclusive views of all faculty members, including those who don’t even belong to the union. This is wrong,” said Dr. Wood.

While NAS takes no position on whether college and university faculty should unionize, it draws a sharp distinction between collective bargaining and ideological advocacy. Dr. Wood said, “When faculty unions declare their support for one side of a contentious political or philosophical debate, and represent this view as the collective wisdom of the whole faculty, they force those faculty members who hold different views to conform. This is what the courts call ‘compelled speech,’ and it violates both academic freedom and the spirit of the First Amendment.”

Peter W. Wood continued, “The National Association of Scholars is opposed to any union strong-arming non-members into ideological conformity by exclusive representation. The political activity of unions is often the very reason professors do not join in the first place. Furthermore, NAS finds that reserving administrative and faculty appointments to union members improperly restricts the role of individual faculty in university governance. Protecting First Amendment rights and ending faculty unions’ assertion of exclusive representation is necessary for a free academy respectful of ideological diversity and inclusion.”

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