Students at NYU, led by the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), have been trying to support workers by drawing attention to the sources of the money Straus gives the university. They've repeatedly rallied with nursing home workers outside the Straus Institute, both during the current strike and during a lockout at one of the nursing homes last winter. In addition to the injunction the NLRB is seeking in the ongoing strike, the agency had previously ordered reinstatement and back pay for the workers. There's a clear pattern of illegal behavior by Straus's nursing homes, yet NYU administrators continue not only to take his money but to defend his behavior. (Those two actions are maybe related, you think?)
Tuesday, SLAM held another rally to support the nursing home workers. This college rally of about 100 people drew an aggressive counter-protest, as seen in the video above. People claiming to be nursing home workers and bearing signs saying "Daniel Straus cares," "SLAM doesn't speak for us," and "Stop SEIU lies and smears" showed up, yelling at and even threatening the NYU students in SLAM. One man is shown on camera asking a student "do you want to be carried out or are you going to leave on your own two feet" and "when you leave here, I'll find you." The anti-union crowd also yelled homophobic slurs.
So ... who were these people? A cynical person might almost suspect that Daniel Straus hired them to counter-protest. Since that can't be proven and Daniel Straus is widely understood to be a litigious son of a bitch, we'll leave it at the level of one theory we should strongly consider. But one thing they absolutely weren't is legitimate protesters who cared about the issue at hand. According to SLAM:
Many of these anti-union thugs claimed to be nursing home workers, yet when asked which nursing home they worked in, they pointed to the building behind them—the Straus Institute! And when asked what their signs, which read, "SLAM Doesn't Speak for Us", meant, none of them could tell us what SLAM stood for.Whether Daniel Straus paid these thugs to show up and counter-protest the student rally is at a minimum a fair question, and it's one that the administration of NYU needs to be asking him in all seriousness. Students at their school were threatened and verbally abused, not randomly but by people who showed up for the purpose of intimidation. If NYU administrators do not ask Straus if he was involved, they've very clearly put donations above students. Mind you, breaking labor law and abusing workers should be enough to make Straus's presence on the NYU Law School's board of trustees poison. But even if nursing home workers and the general principle that labor laws should be obeyed aren't worth defending in the eyes of NYU administrators, the school's own students should be. And if there's any indication that Straus was involved in the hiring of these thugs, is the position of the NYU administration still that he is an honorable man whose presence on the NYU Law School board of trustees and whose major financial donations remain a subject of pride for the university?