The Taylor Law and the outrageous
censorship of “7K or Strike” posters at John Jay
Since its foundation, CUNY Contingents Unite has called for defeating and ripping up New York State’s Taylor Law, through effective class-struggle action bringing in key sectors of NYC’s powerful working class.
This viciously anti-labor law bans strikes and job actions by public employees, including the workforce of the City University of New York. Not only that, the law says we are banned from things that would “cause, instigate, encourage, or condone such a strike” – something we advocate all time, in virtually every issue of the CCU newsletter, in CCU fliers, placards at marches and rallies, speeches, etc. (See “The Taylor Law: What It Is and How to Smash It“.)
The law’s grotesquely anti-democratic ban on strike advocacy was invoked back in September 2005, in the midst of the years-long union contract battle going on at that time, when CUNY’s General Counsel Frederick P. Shaffer sent out an email message to all of us stressing: “The Taylor Law provides sanctions against public employees who engage in a strike and against employee organizations that cause, instigate, encourage and/or condone a strike against a public employer.” He added: “The public employer [CUNY] may take disciplinary action, including termination of employment, against striking employees.” (Three months later, the law was used against striking MTA workers.)
Frederick “Strike Ban” Schaffer retired from CUNY in December 2016. In yet another example of the thoroughly bipartisan nature of anti-labor repression, he was thereupon appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as chairman of the city’s Campaign Finance Board.
Now, John Jay College has literally banned signs advocating that a strike be organized if the vital 7K demand is not met.
How is the administration “justifying” this ban? By citing the Taylor Law’s blatantly unconstitutional prohibition on advocating public-employee strikes.
After campus security at John Jay recently tore down a bunch of signs on 7K, the campus Director of Public Safety sent out an email on March 20 about the incident.
The key part of that email states that the administration’s “labor designee” told campus security that because a sign posted on campus had “advocated for a strike by faculty members, he advised all of those signs should be removed as they were in violation of the ‘Taylor Law.’ As such, the officers were told that if they were to come across these signs during their routine patrols, they should be removed.” (An excerpt from the law was attached to the memo, which also stated that signs not calling for a strike would not be torn down; went on about how “we are strong advocates for Freedom of Speech,” etc.)
This is a fresh and vivid example of why the Taylor Law must be smashed. John Jay’s anti-labor, anti-democratic and unconstitutional censorship, banning material that “advocates for a strike by faculty members,” is an attack on the rights of us all. It must be denounced, opposed, challenged and reversed!
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