Monthly Archives: April 2016

Two Posters Salute graduate employee members of UAW 2110, 2322, and 2865 for respecting the BDS picket line

May Day 2016: Work under colonialism and the politics of solidarity in Palestine & USA

Wednesday, May 4 at 6 PM8:30 PM in PDT
San Franicsco State University LIB121

Letter: Resolution affirms human rights (Daily Collegian)

Daily Collegian

Letter: Resolution affirms human rights

(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)GEO

To the Editor:

On April 14, the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO/UAW Local 2322) at the University of Massachusetts adopted a resolution to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). The resolution calls on the graduate students’ employer and their union to divest from and boycott companies that fuel and profit from the military occupation and repression of Palestinians. BDS is a global grassroots movement that uses peaceful economic means to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect the human rights of Palestinians. The BDS campaign was called for by Palestinian civil society and by major trade unions within the occupied Palestinian territories.

It is encouraging to us as faculty that GEO, the largest collective bargaining unit within UAW Local 2322, and representing over 2,000 graduate student workers at our flagship campus, voted overwhelmingly (95 percent) in favor of the resolution to stand in solidarity with Palestinian civil society. In doing so it became the second major body of unionized workers in the U.S. to formally join the BDS movement by membership vote.

The graduate students faced pressure from individuals outside their union, including a small number of faculty, to reject the resolution. As evidenced by the 95 percent vote in favor of the resolution, the graduate students were not intimidated. We commend the graduate students for conducting their campaign for the resolution in a democratic manner, for following the process outlined in their union bylaws, and for engaging the maximum number of members possible.

Before the vote, GEO organized forums open to its membership and the public, to educate members and to debate the resolution. During a period of open dialogue when all members were encouraged to express diverse views, the GEO Black Caucus and Jewish GEO members publicly endorsed the resolution. The resolution states clearly that it does not seek to discourage association with individual Israeli scholars, and reaffirms GEO’s strong commitment to the principles of academic freedom for all in the UMass community. The methods by which this pro-BDS resolution was adopted represent the best practices of union democracy. We congratulate the graduate students on their principled and democratic vote for social justice.

Signed,

Prof. Louise Antony, Department of Philosophy

Prof. Kiran Asher, Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Lecturer, Abigail Boggs, Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Prof. Laura Briggs, Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Prof. David R. Buchanan, Department of Health Promotion & Policy

Prof. Dan Clawson, Department of Sociology

Prof. Suzanne Daly, Department of English

Prof. Laura A. Doyle, Department of English

Prof. Mwangi wa Gĩthĩnji, Department of Economics

Prof. Peter A. Graham, Department of Philosophy

Prof. Aline C. Gubrium, Department of Health Promotion & Policy

Prof. Ruth Jennison, Department of English

Prof. Sut Jhally, Department of Communication

Prof. Miliann Kang, Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Prof. Emeritus Arthur S. Keene, Department of Anthropology

Prof. David Kotz, Department of Economics

Prof. Elizabeth L. Krause, Department of Anthropology

Prof. Agustin Lao-Montes, Department of Sociology

Prof. Joseph Levine, Department of Philosophy

Prof. Asha Nadkarni, Department of English

Prof. Hoang Gia Phan, Department of English

Prof. Jordy Rosenberg, Department of English

Prof. Sigrid Schmalzer, Department of History

Prof. James Smethurst, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

Prof. Mary C. Wilson, Department of History

Prof. Emeritus H. Martin Wobst, Department of Anthropology

Prof. Kevin A. Young, Department of History

NYU grad workers vote yes on BDS (Socialist Worker)

NYU grad workers vote yes on BDS

 

Sean Larson, a member of the graduate student workers union at New York University, describes his union’s historic vote in favor of Palestine solidarity.

SW1Members of GSOC-UAW Local 2110 participate in the BDS vote (GSOC-UAW Local 2110)

IT WAS 4:30 in the morning on April 22 before the final votes were counted in the presence of tearful and apprehensive onlookers and the result was announced: By a vote of 429 to 216, the graduate workers of New York University (NYU) voted overwhelmingly to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israeli apartheid.

Nearly 650 union members voted on the referendum, a strong turnout indicating widespread support for justice in Palestine.

The resounding success of the BDS referendum was the culmination of a nine-month-long education and organizing campaign among the membership of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC) at NYU, a part of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110.

GSOC-UAW 2110 is a labor union representing over 2,000 teaching assistants, adjunct instructors, research assistants and other graduate workers at NYU, and the only recognized union in the U.S. for graduate workers at a private university.

The BDS vote was initiated by GSOC’s BDS caucus in response to the call for solidarity from Palestinian civil society and all major Palestinian trade unions. With clear support from its membership, GSOC is now calling on both the UAW and NYU to withdraw investments from Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in the ongoing violation of Palestinian human and civil rights.

In accordance with the BDS call, GSOC is also calling on NYU to close down its study abroad program at Tel Aviv University, which continues to violate NYU’s own non-discrimination policy by enforcing Israel’s apartheid laws on its students.

Additionally, 366 union members–58 percent of voters–also pledged to adhere to the academic boycott of Israel and refrain from participating in research and programs sponsored by Israeli universities.

The academic boycott is an important step in exposing how all aspects of Israeli culture and scholarship are tainted with apartheid if they do not take a stand against it. One cannot be a fighter against one form of oppression while ignoring the systematic racism upon which one’s state is built and perpetuates itself.

The recent stand by 22 Israeli anthropologists calling for the academic boycott of Israel is a bold example for others in the country and worldwide.

The atmosphere of threats and intimidation that BDS supporters in Israel face is a reminder that Israel will tolerate many forms of progressive politics in the academy as long as academics keep their mouths shut about the occupation.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

IN THE U.S. support for the BDS movement continues to swell despite the crackdown on Palestine solidarity organizing. Predictably, this resilience is generating a panic among the defenders of apartheid, who are suddenly facing the prospect that they may go the way of the white South African regime in the 1980s or the racist backers of the Jim Crow laws in the U.S. South.

It is the duty of every person of conscience to help in the effort to make this fear a reality and relegate systematic racism to the dustbin of history. In the meantime, let them tremble.

BDS is proving to be hard to stop as a movement. Recently, the Graduate Employee Organization at University of Massachusetts Amherst passed a BDS resolution by referendum, followed by an academic boycott measure approved by the City University of New York Doctoral Students Council. These join many other U.S. academic associationsand several labor unions that have endorsed BDS.

It is especially important for unions to take a stand in solidarity with Palestine. All of the Palestinian trade union federations have signed on to the BDS call, bidding their fellow workers worldwide to make good on the principle of solidarity as the basis for any effective labor movement.

Opponents of BDS may criticize labor unions for taking a stance on a supposedly extraneous and controversial issue, but if the labor movement is to fight for a multiracial and international working class, it must combat racism and oppression of all kinds.

Palestine solidarity resolutions in labor unions are not “divisive.” That’s what apartheid is–by definition. BDS is a step toward unity, and this is all the more important for a relatively new union to show its members that it can represent their interests.

At NYU, GSOC has demonstrated that it is a union willing to defend its many Palestinian members who are directly affected by Israeli apartheid laws. The endorsement of the BDS campaign shows that the union will foster a culture of acceptance and solidarity with the oppressed. Graduate workers will not stand idly by while Israel bombs the homes of fellow union members and the oppressed people of Palestine.

The implications of the GSOC referendum are clear: more and more academic workers will become aware that relations with an apartheid regime cannot in any way be considered “normal.”

NYU’s institutional link with Tel Aviv University, which is located on the destroyed Palestinian village of Sheikh Muwanis and takes pride in developing military technologies and murderous war doctrines used in the occupation, will be henceforward put into question as a relationship that legitimizes apartheid.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A SIMILAR BDS referendum passed by the 13,000-member strong UAW Local 2865 in California was later “nullified” by the UAW International Executive Board, a decision now under appeal by the Public Review Board.

In the lead-up to the GSOC referendum, Local 2110 President Maida Rosenstein made the case for continuing to do nothing: “Why not wait until the Public Review Board rules [on the appeal by Local 2865] before conducting this referendum?” she suggested in a communication to GSOC stewards. Such hedging and legalism is to be expected as the solidarity struggle with Palestine heats up.

Against this complacency we must remember that never before has change come about by itself. Segregation and the Jim Crow laws did not melt away while well-intentioned citizens let the legal system take its course, and the leaders of apartheid South Africa did not suddenly come to terms with their own moral bankruptcy.

These systems of oppression were instead dismantled by broad-based social movements that took bold and uncompromising stands. For decades Palestinians have endured the brutal occupation of their land and waited for the international labor movement to recognize their suffering and take a stand.

The attempted suppression of member voices in UAW Local 2865 only galvanized GSOC members in favor of BDS to redouble their efforts. Now the success at NYU has to be built upon in other labor unions and academic institutions.

This victory in GSOC is an important ray of hope for the movement. In the early hours last Friday, as the votes came rolling in, each “yes” symbolized an outstretched hand of solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians. The dawning realization that victory in this vote was near brought waves of emotion among the many union members, including Palestinians, who were present.

As Murhaf Abdalqader, a Palestinian student attending NYU, said:

While I can’t speak for anyone but myself, I can say that if Palestinians saw the passion and dedication that I saw from the people of all different backgrounds behind this initiative, they’d be inspired with hope. Hope that they gave up on ages ago. Hope [the lack of which] has led us to where we are today–hope of an actual future.

I know that for me, I had given up on things improving in my lifetime. But the results of last night resurrected that child-like hope again. Thank you GSOC. And thank you to everyone who participated, organized or voted yes. Here’s to a free and prospering Palestine.

The NYU referendum shows that the tide is turning against defenders of apartheid. Palestine solidarity organizers should take courage from this historic victory and know that history is on our side. There will be justice in Palestine. The BDS movement is bringing it closer every day.

Solidarity Rising: Two More UAW Graduate Employee Units Endorse BDS!

Screenshot 2016-03-23 17.48.25Solidarity Rising: Two More UAW
Graduate Employee Units Endorse BDS!

 

Screenshot 2016-04-26 18.30.03Joint Statement GSOC-UAW 2110 and GEO-UAW 2322 are Latest Unions to Vote for Divestment
This past week the NYU Graduate Employee Union (GSOC-UAW 2110) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Graduate Employee Union (GEO-UAW 2322), both representing 2,000 members each, endorsed by full membership vote the call from all major Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups to impose Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. . . . In December 2014, the 14,000 student-worker union at the University of California (UAW Local 2865) system passed a similar resolution supporting BDS with 65% in favor.

 

JWJContext: America’s Labor Unions Are Increasingly Standing with Palestine (Alternet)
Following a well-attended panel hosted by Western Mass Labor for Palestine at the April 16 Jobs With Justice Conference in Springfield, MA, author Vijay Prashad extensively reviews the rise of Labor for Palestine and U.S. trade union support for BDS. Panelists included Prashad, LFP Co-Conveners Suzanne Adely and Michael Letwin, Carol Lambiase (United Electrical Workers), Bill Shortell (International Association of Machinists), and was moderated by WMLFP members Jordy Rosenberg and Ruth Jennison. Prashad’s article concludes by quoting Adely: “Ultimately, building labor solidarity with Palestine and with all anti-racist struggles is part of the fight to build a stronger, democratic union movement.”

 

delegation-birzeitLabor to Palestine: We Stand with Palestine in the Spirit of “Sumud”: The U.S. Prisoner, Labor and Academic Solidarity Delegation to Palestine
On April 16, the nineteen-member March 2016 delegation to Palestine, which included LFP Co-convener Jaime Veve and several other trade unionists, issued a powerful report stating, in part: “We join hands with our comrades in the Palestinian labor movement and salute the struggle of striking teachers, labor organizers and workers demanding economic justice, independence and national self-determination from colonial structures. We further pledge to campaign in the ranks of U.S. labor to divest from Israeli bonds and sever ties between the AFL-CIO and the Histadrut.” To host a local event with delegation members, contact palestine.prison.delegation16@gmail.com

 

socialsecstrike-maanLabor in Palestine: Mass Rally Against Approval of New “Social Security” Law (IMEMC)
Thousands of Palestinians, on Tuesday, demonstrated outside of a government building, in the occupied West Bank hub of Ramallah, against the Palestinian Authority’s approval of a new law many believe fails to provide adequate protection for workers. . . . Weeks earlier, a teachers’ strike brought the largest public demonstrations against the PA in years.

Analysis: Eric Lee: The Online Labour Solidarity Whiz who’s ‘Proud to be a Zionist’
In a new article, British BDS activists Peter Waterman discusses the hypocrisy of Zionist anti-BDS spokesperson Eric Lee, owner of the widely-read website, LabourStart.

Download: New Labor for Palestine Pamphlet
Key background documents from Labor for Palestine, prepared for 2016 Labor Notes conference.

Donate

National Wave of Labor Support for Justice for Palestinians as Unions Vote to Divest from Israeli Apartheid: GSOC-UAW 2110 and GEO-UAW 2322 are Latest Unions to Vote for Divestment (GSOC-UAW 2110, GEO-UAW 2322, UAW 2865)

Screenshot 2016-04-26 18.30.03Issued by the BDS Caucuses of UAW 2110 (NYU), UAW 2322 (UMass), and UAW 2865 (UC)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2016

Media contacts
NYU – gsocmembersforbds@gmail.com
UMass Amherst – Anna Waltman: anna.waltman@gmail.com UCs – uaw2865bds@gmail.com | Jennifer Mogannam: jennifer.mogannam@gmail.com

National Wave of Labor Support for Justice for Palestinians as Unions Vote to Divest from Israeli Apartheid

GSOC-UAW 2110 and GEO-UAW 2322 are Latest Unions to Vote for Divestment

This past week the NYU Graduate Employee Union (GSOC-UAW 2110) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Graduate Employee Union (GEO-UAW 2322), both representing 2,000 members each, endorsed by full membership vote the call from all major Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups to impose Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

On April 22, GSOC-UAW 2110 endorsed a resolution calling for BDS against Israel with a 66.5 % member vote in favor. This endorsement came on the heels of the landslide vote of GEO-UAW 2322 member vote with 95% of voters in support. The resolutions calls on their respective employers–NYU and UMass–and their parent union, UAW International, to divest pension funds and other investments from Israeli institutions complicit in human rights violations of Palestinians. GSOC members also called on NYU to close its campus at Tel Aviv University, and 57% pledged to adhere to the academic boycott of Israel until they respect Palestinian rights.

These resolutions by aspiring educators of future generations significantly contribute to the already evolving discourse on justice for Palestinians. Growing momentum in U.S. labor movements adds to over eight academic associations which have endorsed BDS with resounding majorities. Last year, the Connecticut AFL-CIO (200,000 members) and the United Electrical Workers (35,000 members) also endorsed BDS.

“We are seeing growing momentum among grassroots labor in support for justice and equality for Palestinians. This wave of successive victories for BDS among labor groups representing hundreds of thousands of workers across the country is empowering and in line with the rich histories labor unions have in supporting justice movements.”–Beezer De Martelly, UAW 2865 member

As the movement for Palestinian freedom and equality continues to grow across the U.S., so too have concerted efforts to silence those critical of Israeli policies. In December 2014, the 14,000 student-worker union at the University of California (UAW Local 2865) system passed a similar resolution supporting BDS with 65% in favor. While admitting the vote was democratic, UAW International went on to “nullify” the results on dubious grounds, a decision that is currently under appeal. The decision clearly did not deter other locals from putting BDS to vote, a testament that movements for and by the people will persist despite undemocratic mechanisms of sanctioning political speech and grassroots commitments to local and global social justice.

“This surge of BDS campaigns by rank-and-file union members is an example of how workers are engaging in union democracy to reclaim the labor movement as a platform to take a stand on important social struggles of our time. Despite attempts by the UAW International Executive Board to quell BDS activism in the ranks, the fact that workers from coast to coast have democratically expressed solidarity with Palestinians shows that movements for justice cannot be silenced.” Anna Waltman, GEO-UAW 2322 member

Numerous unions, labor groups, and human rights organizations supported the integrity of UAW 2865’s BDS stand. A statement by the Autoworker Caravan, a coalition of industrial workers within the UAW committed to social justice unionism, commended Local 2865 on continuing UAW’s tradition of anti-South African apartheid and civil rights activism. These resolutions reflect the will of rank and file members and have engaged wide segments of workers in vigorous debate and conversation. Members have learned that Palestinian labor unions are not recognized by Israel, creating especially dire conditions for the 92,000 Palestinian workers who cross into Israel and its settlements. Historically, the labor movement has exerted real pressure on employers through strikes and workplace actions, and BDS campaigns have played a major role in the democratic awakening among labor unions in the U.S. These new votes of U.S. labor union endorsements for Palestinian freedom and equality adds additional weight to the voices who have already spoken out against Israeli human rights violations, and in support of BDS. U.S labor unions have a rich history of standing in solidarity with struggles for justice, and members will continue to mobilize so that all workers matter, not just some.

Attempts to Stifle BDS Support Within UAW Local Backfires (Shadow Proof)

Shadow Proof

ATTEMPTS TO STIFLE BDS SUPPORT WITHIN UAW LOCAL BACKFIRES

BDSposter

Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) have been fighting to protect a resolution passed in 2014 to support Palestinian civil society’s Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) call.

According to an official press release, in December 2014, UAW Local 2865, a student-workers union representing some 13,000 tutors, teaching assistants, and other student-workers at the University of California, became the first major U.S. labor union to demand that their union and employer divest from companies that have been complicit in human rights violations against Palestinians.

UAW Local 2865 members voted to endorse the BDS call for divestment in a landslide—by 65%—with 52% of voting members pledging to support an academic boycott, and over 2,100 voting.

In a letter endorsed by union leadership in the run-up to the vote:

We believe that as student and labor organizers, we have a duty to stand by principles of anti­-oppression organizing. As we stand in solidarity with Palestinian self­-determination, we also recognize that here in the United States we have our own systems of structural racism and settler colonialism to resist and dismantle. In the university system in which we both learn and labor, the disparity in access to people of color and working ­class people as well as the existence of our universities on stolen indigenous land alerts us to the importance of making these connections in our movements.

The measures that were called for were, according to the official statement released by UAW Local 2865:

“[That] the University of California divest from companies involved in the occupation of Palestine; that UAW International to divest from these same entities; the US government to end military aid to Israel. 52% of voting members pledged not to “take part in any research, conferences, events, exchange programs, or other activities that are sponsored by Israeli universities complicit in the occupation of Palestine and the settler-colonial policies of the state of Israel” until such time as these universities take steps to end complicity with dispossession, occupation, and apartheid.”

Since this historic vote, pressure on members who supported the resolution has mounted. Stephen Brumbaugh, a member of the union’s anti-BDS caucus known as Informed Grads, appealed the results of the vote to UAW Local 2865 in December 2014.

In 2015, the UAW 2865 vote in support of BDS was nullified by the International Executive Board. The IEB did not find any issues with the vote itself and went out of their way to defend the integrity of the process and make clear that the results represented the will of voting members. Instead, the IEB nullified the vote on constitutional grounds, claiming the vote interfered with the flow of commerce and could hurt UAW employers, as well as claiming that, by targeting Israeli policies, the resolutions discriminated against Israeli and even Jewish UAW members.

This claim of vilification, unsupported by evidence in the official record provided to Shadowproof, was upheld by the IEB despite the fact that the same records show significant numbers of Jewish and Israeli members and officers supported the resolution.

According to briefs provided to Shadowproof, UAW Local 2865 went on to appeal the IEB decision, stating in part that “the IEB improperly ignored the UAW constitutional mandate to solidify the labor movement and build solidarities with other unions, such as the Palestinian labor unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers who issued the call for BDS in 2005.”

The Local has appealed the IEB ruling to the UAW Public Review Board, a panel of labor lawyers with no affiliation to the UAW, who are empowered to review decisions of the IEB if they are appealed. Gibson Dunn and the UAW IEB have filed their own responses, and the Public Review Board has started its review of the case, with a final ruling expected in the next few months.

While the fate of UAW 2865’s resolution remains uncertain, the campaign to erase the Local’s Palestine solidarity work through undemocratic means has only backfired on those seeking to shield Israeli policy from criticism.

While major unions like the United Electrical Workers and the Connecticut AFL-CIO endorsed BDS resolutions following UAW 2865’s vote, there has been a greater increase in U.S. labor movement support for BDS following the nullification of their resolution.

Following nullification, rank-and-file activists in Local 2865 gathered nearly 18,000 signatures, including over 11,000 from the pro-BDS Jewish group Jewish Voice For Peace, and close to 500 signatures from US trade unionists. Activists also collected letters of support from a long list of prominent individuals, community groups, labor caucuses, as well as other unions.

Three UAW Locals—UAW 4121, UAW 2322, and GSOC-UAW 2110, which represent academic and other workers at the University of Washington, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and NYU, respectively—each wrote strong letters supporting UAW 2865’s right to local autonomy and democracy, demanding that the UAW IEB reinstate UAW 2865’s vote.

The Autoworkers Caravan, a progressive caucus of auto workers who are members of several different UAW Locals, also joined the chorus of voices demanding the IEB reverse course, showing that support for BDS extends beyond academic workers represented by UAW.

In addition to this outpouring of support for UAW 2865, BDS within the U.S. labor movement has also seen more concrete gains, fueled in part by anger over UAW 2865’s resolution nullification. Just this April, two unions within the UAW overwhelmingly endorsed BDS by member vote. GEO-UAW 2322, which represents 1,700 student workers at University of Massachusetts Amherst, announced on April 15 that they had passed a BDS resolution with a whopping 95% of their voting members in favor.

A week later, on April 22, GSOC-UAW 2110, which represents 2,000 student workers at NYU, announced that they had passed a BDS resolution with 67% of their voting members in favor, in an election that saw record-breaking voter turnout. The results at both of these unions came despite legal threats and intimidation from those opposed to the resolutions, as well as attempts by UAW Local 2110 officials to interfere with elections there.

According to discussions with members of the pro-BDS caucus within UAW 2865, other unions they are in touch with are also beginning their own BDS campaigns, meaning more resolutions like these are sure to follow.

Members from both GEO-UAW 2322 and GSOC-UAW 2110 specifically mention the nullification of UAW 2865’s vote as motivation for holding their votes now, showing that undemocratic efforts to stifle BDS activism within UAW have actually benefited the movement, rather than hindered it.

Activists in the UAW are making it clear to everyone that the only way to defeat BDS is to defeat the occupation. Jennifer Mogannam, a Ph.D. candidate at UC San Diego in the department of Ethnic Studies, a rank and file member of UAW 2865, told Shadowproof that the passage of and commitment to BDS at the student-worker union level “marks an important and uplifting shift in both academia and union organizing.”

Mogannam argues that this marks  a critical turn “in a new generation of scholars whereby not only are we able to engage critically on the question of Palestine, but it also indicates an unapologetic commitment to social justice in academia.”

“On the contrary, through the pushback and meaningless appeal based on politics and not protocol,” Mogannam explained, “we see the UAW international board exposing the contradictions within the labor movement by prioritizing fiscal and political relationships over workers’ rights and social justice.”

The attack against UAW is “part and parcel of the larger Zionist movement’s suppression and attacking of those fighting for Palestinian self-determination and against Israeli settler colonialism,” Mogannam said. This is why the fight continues.

The pressure on UAW, groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, and other organizations that have answered the BDS call, has grown with every successful BDS resolution—from targeted campaigns meant to instill fear of losing a job or academic position, to baseless accusations of anti-Semitism against those who oppose the state of Israel.

Kumars Salehi, a graduate student and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley, told Shadowproof that he’s already seen his career prospects and standing in his field threatened by smears against him, simply for being a Palestine advocate.

“Because of this campaign and other attempts to target me personally and brand me as a bigot, I have to live and work with the constant fear that I will be marginalized in my community and denied career opportunities because mentors, collaborators and employers will see me as a liability and a source of potentially unending controversy, ” Salehi says.

He now has to worry that he will be the target of disciplinary proceedings if a student is uncomfortable with him as a teacher, due to his political activities being publicly associated with bigotry.

On April 19, Salehi shared a poster being plastered across the UC Berkeley campus that read like a hit list. It accused a number of UC Berkeley faculty and students of allying themselves with “Jew hatred.” The poster reads:

“BDS. Boycott, Divestment, Sanction. A Hamas-inspired genocidal campaign to destroy Israel, the world’s only Jewish state. The following students and faculty at UC Berkeley have allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetrate BDS and Jew hatred on this campus.”

The poster listed the David Horowitz’s ‘Freedom Center’ at the bottom, along with the hashtag #StopTheJewHatredOnCampus. And still, whether it’s the fight against the UAW BDS resolution, or the stigmatization of students and faculty members, the push back against Palestine solidarity work has been growing, but that doesn’t mean that resistance has ebbed. The passage of BDS resolutions and organizating around solidarity actions continue. A statement by Kumars Salehi speaks to the attitude surrounding this resistance:

“At this point, being attacked personally doesn’t intimidate me. If my career were going to be fucked by Palestine activism, it already is.”

Election and Referendum Results (GSOC-UAW 2110)

UAW 2110 logoElection and Referendum Results

Dear Colleagues,

We write with the results of our election. Despite several irregularities in the run up to April 15 and the delay in opening voting on stewards and Joint Council delegates earlier this week, we are pleased to announce that our election results and the results of the referendum vote have now been counted and compiled. We will assemble and release a full report about the process as soon as possible.

We had a tremendous turnout, with approximately 38% of our current membership participating in the votes. This is clear evidence of a strong mandate for those elected below, and a sign that we graduate student workers in GSOC-Local 2110 maintain a significant commitment to the democratic process.


Notice of Election for Stewards and Local 2110 Joint Council Delegates

The following candidates have been elected to fill vacancies in the Humanities and Social Sciences district of Assembly of Stewards, with results stated as a total percentage of all votes cast in this district:
Nathaniel Preus with 32% of the votes in the district
Maya Wind with 32% of the votes in the district
Benjamin Fogel with 30% of the votes in the district

The following candidates have been elected to fill vacancies in the Professional Schools district of Assembly of Stewards, with results stated as a total percentage of all votes cast in this district:
Colette Perold with 20% of the votes in the district
Rachel Kuo with 19% of the votes in the district
Tim Neff with 19% of the votes in the district
Alex Campolo with 18% of the votes in the district
Joshua Krug with 6% of the votes in the district
Mijal Bitton with 5% of the votes in the district

The following candidates have been elected by acclamation to fill vacancies in the Tandon School of Engineering district of Assembly of Stewards
Vinay A. Banpel
Abhinav Swaminathan
Saurabh Pitre
Manjunath B Ramachandra
Siddharth Waghmare

The following candidates have been elected for the Local 2110 Joint Council delegates, with results stated as a total percentage of all votes cast in this race across all districts:
Claudia Carrera with 14% of the votes
Ziad Dallal with 13% of the votes
Benjamin Fogel with 12% of the votes
Sean Larson with 12% of the votes
Daniel Brinkerhoff Young with 11% of the votes
Sam Dinger with 11% of the votes
Nicholas Duron with 11% of the votes
Christopher P. Nickel with 11% of the votes


 

Notice of the results from the referendum on whether GSOC-UAW Local 2110 should join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement:

Regarding,
Should GSOC-UAW Local 2110 join the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), until Israel complies with international law and ends the military occupation, dismantles the wall, recognizes the rights of Palestinian citizens to full equality, and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees and exiles?

66.5% Vote Yes
33.5% Vote No
Out of a total of 645 votes.

Regarding,
The voluntary and non-binding individual commitment to participate in the academic boycott, which targets Israeli government and academic institutions complicit in Israeli violation of Palestinian rights.

57.6% Vote Yes
41.9% Vote No
Out of a total of 635 votes.


A full count of election data can be accessed here.

We thank you all for your participation in the election and the referendum vote. Your involvement in our union is critical. GSOC’s investment in a fair and democratic process for selecting our leadership and asserting our collective political orientations is inspiring. We as Votes Committee were honored to act in the service of our Unit and its part in the broader labor movement.

In Solidarity
Votes Committee

Jessica Feldman
Michael Gould-Wartofsky
Darach Miller
Tess Rankin
Shelly Ronen
Parth Singh

NYU graduate worker union backs Israel boycott by big margin (Electronic Intifada)

eilogoElectronic Intifada

NYU graduate worker union backs Israel boycott by big margin

New York University’s graduate student worker union has voted by a large margin to join the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in support of Palestinian rights.

The Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC), part of United Auto Workers Local 2110, also voted for stewards and delegates, defying the parent union’sdeclaration last week of an election by acclamation after disqualifying more than half of GSOC’s candidates.

After 38 percent of the union’s more than 2,000 members cast ballots this week, GSOC announced that the results are “clear evidence of a strong mandate for those elected” and a sign of members’ “commitment to the democratic process.”

Many of the candidates who had been disqualified were elected with strong margins.

Backing BDS

Two-thirds voted “Yes” to a question on whether GSOC should join the BDS movement until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian rights.

Screenshot 2016-04-26 20.18.51The petition that triggered the referendum, signed by more than 300 members, calls on NYU and the UAW’s national organization – known in US labor parlance as the international – to “withdraw their investments from Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in the ongoing violation of Palestinian human and civil rights.”

It also urges NYU to close its program at Tel Aviv University, arguing that the partnership violates NYU’s non-discrimination policy.

Israel has frequently barred entry or harassed visitors who are Muslim or of Arab or other Middle Eastern ancestry, including US citizens.

The UAW international nullified a similar BDS resolution passed by University of California graduate student workers, UAW Local 2865, in 2014. The local union is currently appealing the nullification to the UAW Public Review Board.

The president of UAW Local 2110 in New York had tried to persuade GSOC to postpone this week’s BDS referendum pending the outcome of the California case.

In addition, 58 percent, or 366 GSOC members, voted to adhere to the academic boycott, agreeing to refrain from participating in research and programs sponsored by Israeli universities.

“This historic endorsement of BDS by GSOC at NYU occurs in the wake of growing momentum for the movement across university campuses and labor unions nationwide,” Shafeka Hashash, a member of the GSOC for BDS caucus, said in apress release.

“NYU’s GSOC referendum set an important precedent for both solidarity with Palestine and for union democracy,” the press release added.

“The referendum success is indicative of the traction the movement is gaining across university campuses, and increasingly among graduate students,” stated Maya Wind, another member of GSOC for BDS.

Wind had initially been disqualified as a candidate by the local, but was elected to a steward position with 32 percent of the votes. Only one other candidate received as large a share of the votes.

A week ago, City University of New York doctoral students passed a resolution in favor of a boycott of Israeli institutions complicit in abuses of Palestinian rights.

In denouncing the Doctoral Student Council’s vote, CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken reiterated the school’s opposition to BDS.

“We are disappointed by this vote from one student group, but it will not change CUNY’s position,” Millikin said.

Blacklist

The two recent BDS victories in New York come at a time when state legislators are pushing for a crackdown on Palestine solidarity activism.

“The most far-reaching, unconstitutional anti-BDS bills in the country are currently under consideration by the New York legislature,” according to the legal defense group Palestine Legal.

In January, New York lawmakers introduced bills in the lower house and senate that would require state officials to publish a blacklist of supporters of the BDS movement.

The state senate passed its version of the law, which applies to boycotts of any nation allied to the US, and is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.

The proposed laws would bar those on the blacklist from working with state agencies. The bill would also prohibit state pension funds from investing in companies engaged in politically motivated boycotts of Israel.

NYU grad union votes for Israel boycott (Politico NY)

Politico New York

NYU grad union votes for Israel boycott

a-Tel Aviv University_0
Students walk throughout the Tel Aviv University campus in Israel. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) 

By CONOR SKELDING 10:16 a.m. | Apr. 22, 2016

New York University’s graduate students union voted to approve a “Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions” resolution regarding the state of Israel, the Graduate Student Organizing Committee announced Friday morning.

The resolution passed with 66.5 percent in favor, with “over 600 members” voting, GSOC said.

It called for the NYU union and the United Auto Workers, GSOC’s parent, to divest from Israeli companies and stop doing business with them, and also for NYU “to close its program in Tel Aviv University, which continues to violate the NYU Non-Discrimination policy.”

It also included a personal pledge not to work with Israeli academic institutions.

The resolution supports a boycott “until Israel complies with international law and ends the military occupation, dismantles the wall, recognizes the rights of Palestinian citizens to full equality, and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees and exiles.”

University leadership reiterated its opposition to the boycott.

NYU spokesman John Beckman said, “NYU has a long-standing position opposing boycotts of Israeli academics and institutions. This vote is at odds with NYU’s policy on this matter, it is at odds with the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, and it is even at odds with the position of their own parent union, the UAW,” referring to the nullification of a BDS vote by a University of California graduate student union by the UAW International.

GSOC also announced its election results for representation in the union’s Assembly of Stewards and UAW Local 2110’s Joint Council.

Some grad union members had accused Local 2110 of disqualifying certain BDS-supporting candidates and last Friday installing a full slate “by acclamation” in lieu of an election. GSOC’s Votes Committee decided to go ahead with its own elections, with the local-disqualified candidates on the ballot.

Local 2110 president Maida Rosenstein said that GSOC’s accusations were “completely untrue,” and that the disqualified candidates had not worked during the last academic year, signed cards, or paid dues.

Members of the anti-BDS caucus also asked to have their names removed from the ballots for the “rogue elections,” the results of which GSOC announced Friday.

It is unclear whether Local 2110 will recognize the election results. (Rosenstein was out of the office Friday.)