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For Immediate Release: December 10, 2014
Historic Landslide BDS Vote by Grad Students’ Union at University of California
First time membership of any major union body in the US has taken a stand in support of boycott of Israel
University of California graduate student-workers have ratified UAW 2865’s resolution to join the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The historic December 4 vote, passed by a landslide 65%-35% margin, is the first time that the membership of any major union body in the United States has taken a stand against more than six decades of complicity by U.S. government, university and top labor officials in Israeli apartheid.
Labor bodies in the United States have — often without knowledge or consent of union members — invested billions of dollars in State of Israel Bonds.
UAW 2865’s resolution answers urgent calls from Palestinian trade unions and Labor for Palestine issued amid last summer’s Israeli war on Gaza — armed and funded by the United States government — that ultimately killed more than 2000 people, including more than 500 children.
It embraces BDS demands for decolonization of all historic Palestine: an end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, as affirmed by UN resolution 194.
By respecting the worldwide BDS picket line, UAW 2865 joins the Congress of South African Trade Unions and labor organizations around the world, including ILWU Local 10 dockworkers who refuse to handle Israeli Zim line cargo.
It also reflects a long tradition of labor, civil rights and South African anti-apartheid boycotts, while mirroring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous condemnation of the Vietnam War, and his declaration that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
As Richard Trumka, now head of the AFL-CIO, said in 1987: “Sanctions alone cannot eradicate apartheid; that task is ultimately left to the people of South Africa themselves. But economic pressure and political isolation of the South African government can hasten the day when justice and freedom reign in that troubled land.”
UAW 2865’s BDS resolution also builds on Students for Justice in Palestine’s BDS victories at six of nine UC campuses, and is deeply connected to ongoing battles now being waged by UC students and workers against attacks on public higher education, and protests against institutional racism and state violence.
As the UAW 2865 Joint Council pointed out: “Working people everywhere have a common interest in opposing oppression and exploitation wherever they are found. Working together as a global labor movement to oppose injustice around the world strengthens us all in our individual struggles against anti-labor employers and states and in our collective efforts to build the world that working people deserve. An Injury to One Is an Injury to All.”
“Labor solidarity means speaking truth to power — from Ferguson, to New York City to Palestine,” said Michael Letwin, former president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325, and co-founder of Labor for Palestine. “And UAW 2865’s courage will inspire other unions in this country to stand up for justice.”
Contact: Michael Letwin