Jamaal Bowman Defends Union Fighting Subpoena Over Anti-Israel Resolution

Top Republican says union 'appears to have infringed on several statutory rights of its members'

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) (Getty Images)
April 12, 2024

New York Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman is defending a union chapter that has resisted complying with a subpoena in a congressional investigation into an anti-Israel resolution that Republicans say may have infringed upon union members' rights.

Bowman on Thursday jumped to the defense of the United Automobile Workers Local 2325, which is refusing to comply with a March subpoena from the Education and Workforce Committee following the union’s December 19 vote for a "Resolution Calling for a Ceasefire in Gaza, an End to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, and Support for Workers’ Political Speech." The resolution, which passed 1,067-570, omitted any mention of Hamas but lamented Israel’s response to the attacks, accused Israel of "genocidal rhetoric," and declared support for an economic boycott of Israel.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), the committee chair, issued the subpoena after saying the union had obstructed her efforts to find out more about the vote and its impact on members. Foxx has said the union "appears to have infringed on several statutory rights of its members" by adopting the resolution.

"I stand with Local 2325 and its members’ rights to free speech and political expression. Union speech is free speech, and union members have the right to engage in democratic processes on issues of importance to them," Bowman wrote on Thursday. "Chair Foxx’s targeting of Local 2325’s resolution vote is a blatant attempt to silence a union whose members voted overwhelmingly and democratically to take a political position with which she disagrees. Such intimidation tactics go far beyond the legitimate uses of the Committee’s oversight power, and instead serve only to scare unions across the country from exercising their right to political expression for fear of unfair persecution."

Emma Simon, Bowman’s deputy communications director, echoed Bowman’s ire for Foxx, "A good reminder that chair Virginia Foxx is the worst!!"

The Education and Workforce Committee has spearheaded exposing the explosion of anti-Semitism after Oct. 7—a cause Bowman has not championed during his uphill primary race against Westchester County executive George Latimer. Latimer is a pro-Israel Democrat whom local rabbis encouraged to run, citing Bowman's hostility toward the Jewish state. In the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, the two-term congressman has accused Israel of "mass murder," "genocide," and "ethnic cleansing."

The committee began the investigation because it was concerned some union members were being forced to comply with a resolution that conflicted with their faith.

"The Committee noted how several of Local 2325’s members were forced to be associated with a union that had taken a critical position affecting their faith, the State of Israel, and Israel’s sovereignty," Foxx wrote in a cover letter accompanying the subpoena.

The union failed to respond to Foxx’s initial January 29 letter requesting information about the union’s resolution, and the union continues to refuse to cooperate with the March 8 subpoena.

The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys representing Local 2325 wrote in a March 25 statement that it would not produce any documents because they argue it would violate their members’ right to free speech.

"Both the Request for Information and the subpoena contain concerning and untrue mischaracterizations of UAW Local 2325, our internal democratic processes and representation of our membership, and the Resolution, including baseless accusations of anti-Semitic behavior and undemocratic conduct. We unequivocally stand by the democratically-passed Resolution and reject these mischaracterizations," the union’s attorneys wrote.

Bowman concluded by comparing Foxx’s investigations into anti-Semitism across academia and the workforce to "McCarthy-era repression."

"We cannot allow a return to McCarthy-era repression, and must stand strong in upholding basic first amendment rights for all especially in times of crisis and grief," Bowman wrote.

A spokesman for the Republican-run committee directed the Washington Free Beacon to their response to Bowman posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday.

"It’s not surprising that someone who doesn’t worry about the consequences of his rule breaking also doesn’t care about the consequences of allowing anti-Semitism to fester in a union hall," the committee wrote.

Bowman's Democratic colleagues on the committee have raised concerns about anti-Semitism during the bipartisan roundtable conducted in February.

During his campaign, Bowman has touted endorsements from anti-Israel groups. In March, he said he was "honored" to have the endorsement of Indivisible Brooklyn which denounced a bill to "end Jew hatred." In January, Bowman touted the endorsement of The Jewish Vote, a group which blamed Israel for provoking the Oct. 7 attacks.

Bowman and Local 2325 did not return a request for comment.