Jewish MIT students sue union, say they are forced to pay dues to anti-Semitic organization

Jewish graduate students at MIT requested an exemption from paying union dues, alleging their union openly endorses anti-Semitism, but they were ultimately denied.

MIT graduate students are represented by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), a staunch anti-Israel, politically progressive organization.

Jewish students at a prestigious Cambridge, Massachusetts school are taking action against their union representatives for allegations of anti-Semitism.

Graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently filed discrimination charges against the school’s Graduate Student Union (GSU) and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), alleging that Jewish students are unlawfully being required to pay their dues for anti-Semitic causes.

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Graduate students at MIT voted to unionize in 2016, recognizing UE as its exclusive bargaining agent. Under this arrangement, UE has broad authority under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require the students to pay dues to the union while still allowing for certain religious exemptions.

The Jewish students filing charges have accused UE of openly endorsing anti-Semitism and thus object to supporting the group.

MIT student Will Sussman wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 22 that UE “urges the union at all levels to become engaged in BDS,” in reference to the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the state of Israel.

“Jewish graduate students are a minority at MIT. We can’t remove the GSU or disabuse it of its antisemitism,” Sussman wrote. “But we also can’t support an organization that actively works toward the eradication of the Jewish homeland, where I have family living now.”

Sussman and his colleagues initially sought recourse through non-legal channels, sending letters to the union asking for an exemption. UE allegedly denied these requests, however, writing in their reply to Sussman that “no principles, teachings or tenets of Judaism prohibit membership in or the payment of dues or fees to a labor union.”

The students reportedly filed their charges through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal body responsible for enforcing worker laws that “make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex … national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” 

[RELATED: UC Berkeley is latest subject of congressional investigation into campus anti-Semitism]

According to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which aided the students in formalizing their grievance, if EEOC agrees with the students’ complaints after investigation, the agency will either take action against UE itself, or it will grant the students the right to formally bring suit independently. 

In December, Campus Reform reported that Cornell graduate students had unionized through UE, noting its staunch anti-Israel and other far-left political positions

Campus Reform has contacted MIT, GSU, UE, EEOC, and Will Sussman for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.