Monthly Archives: July 2016

NLRB Upholds Union’s Right To Endorse BDS Against Israel (In These Times)

In These Times
WEDNESDAY, JUL 27, 2016, 6:38 PM

NLRB Upholds Union’s Right To Endorse BDS Against Israel

BY ALEX KANE

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has upheld a decision to dismiss a complaint against the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) for endorsing a boycott of Israel.

The move is a victory for advocates of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which targets Israel over alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians. Earlier this year, the NLRB ruled against Shurat HaDin, the Israeli legal center that brought the complaint seeking an injunction against UE’s decision to endorse boycotting Israel. The latest decision was in response to an appeal filed by Shurat HaDin.

UE endorsed the call for BDS at its August convention, making it the first national union in the United States to support the boycott. The resolution denounced Israeli racism and wars in the Gaza Strip and supported an end of U.S. military aid to Israel.

Palestinian trade unions have appealed for solidarity from unions around the world, urging them to endorse the BDS movement, which calls for an end to the Israeli occupation, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Labor unions in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Uruguay, and Canada have endorsed BDS. And in addition to UE, a handful of labor union chapters in the United States has joined the call for a boycott of Israel. These unions have joined a growing movement, modeled on the fight against South African apartheid, to isolate Israel.

In October, two months after UE endorsed BDS, Shurat HaDin filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB. The group alleged that the UE decision to endorse BDS violated U.S. labor law, claiming the union encouraged its members to engage in an illegal “secondary boycott.”

Under U.S. labor law, a union cannot encourage others who work at “neutral employers”—those outside of a direct dispute between a union and its employer—to strike or stop work. In a statement, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat HaDin, said it was a “violation of American labor law for the union to encourage its members to cease doing business with Israelis and Israeli companies.”

But the NLRB disagreed. The labor board first dismissed the complaint in January. After Shurat HaDin appealed, the NLRB ruled in May that the union’s endorsement of BDS was not a “signal or request” to employees “to engage in a work stoppage against their employers,” which would be illegal.

(The union only recently commented on the NLRB’s decision because it was waiting for the results of a Freedom of Information Act request on the case. It still has not received a response.)

“As a result of the NLRB decision, it really allows for any other unions to go through and endorse the BDS movement without having to deal with … attacks from organizations that are trying to curb political speech,” Andrew Dinkelaker, general secretary-treasurer of UE, said this month.

Dinkelaker added that the pro-BDS decision was in line with the union’s history of international solidarity, like its support for an end to U.S. aid to apartheid South Africa.

Shurat HaDin did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story.

BDS activists hope that the boycott Israel movement grows inside labor unions. So far, advocates for BDS have found the most success within graduate student unions.

In December 2014, United Auto Workers-2865, which represents thousands of teaching assistants and other student workers at the University of California, overwhelmingly endorsed BDS. In November 2015, the Connecticut chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations called on the national union to boycott and divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation. And this year, graduate student unions at New York University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Massachusetts endorsed the boycott. The union endorsements of the BDS movement came after actions like August 2014’s “Block the Boat,” in which dockworkers in Oakland, California, heeding the calls of Palestine solidarity activists, refused to unload Israeli goods for four days in protest of Israel’s assault on Gaza that summer.

But as boycott advocates establish a foothold within labor unions, opponents of BDS have gone on the attack against the movement. In addition to the Shurat HaDin charge against UE, a group of anti-BDS members of UAW-2865 appealed the chapter’s endorsement of the boycott. In December 2015, the parent UAW International nullified the chapter’s decision.

Liz Jackson, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal, a group that defends the right to advocate for Palestine in the United States, said that Shurat HaDin’s complaint against UE “never had legs to begin with” because it had no legal merit.

But Jackson said the legal complaint was just one part of a bigger strategy to combat the BDS movement.

“They clearly are bringing obviously frivolous lawsuits and legal complaints to scare supporters of BDS and drain resources,” Jackson added. “They use legal threats as part of the strategy to persuade people in the upper echelons of institutional power structures to crush [BDS].”

Alex Kane is a New York-based freelance journalist who writes on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties.

US labor board affirms union’s right to boycott Israel (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

US labor board affirms union’s right to boycott Israel

ue-august-2015

The United Electrical Workers backed BDS in a vote of delegates at the union’s August 2015 national convention in Baltimore. (via Facebook)

The National Labor Relations Board has reaffirmed its dismissal of charges against the United Electrical workers union because of its support for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The NLRB is the US federal agency that enforces the country’s trade union legislation.

In August 2015, the 30,000-strong United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, known as UE, became only the second national trade union in the US to back BDS by a vote of delegates at its annual convention in Baltimore.

In October, Shurat HaDin, a lawfare group with ties to Israel’s Mossad spying and assasination agency, filed a complaint against the union, claiming that its support for BDS amounted to a violation of the law against secondary boycotts.

In January, the labor board dismissed the complaint, stating it had investigated and found “there is insufficient evidence to establish a violation” of the law.

Shurat HaDin appealed the dismissal, but on 26 May the labor board’s general counsel issued a letter that the union says reaffirms the earlier decision to throw the case out.

Victory for BDS

UE national president Peter Knowlton welcomed the decision in a press release on Friday.

Knowlton said that UE had in the past “withstood attempts by the US government to silence us during the McCarthy era in the 1950s,” and was “unbowed by the latest attempt of a surrogate of the Israeli government to stifle our call for justice for Palestinian and Israeli workers.”

“The NLRB’s decision is a victory for the growing BDS movement across the US, which faces increasing political attempts to silence and intimidate critics of the Israeli government,” he added.

“As Americans who have a constitutional right to criticize our own government, we certainly have a right to criticize and, if we choose, boycott a foreign government that is heavily subsidized by US taxpayers,” Knowlton said.

The NLRB decision will encourage rank and file members in other unions who are battling bosses for the right to express and organize support for Palestinian rights.

The UE resolution that Shurat HaDin tried and failed to overturn calls on the US to end all military aid to Israel and for pressure on Israel “to end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza and negotiate a peace agreement on the basis of equality, democracy and human rights for the Palestinian and Israeli people, including Palestinian self-determination and the right of return for refugees.”

Frivolous lawsuits

Unable to stem the growing grassroots support for Palestinian rights, and particularly the BDS movement, Israel and its surrogates have increasingly turned to repressive legislation and litigation.

Last month, Brooke Goldstein explained that the purpose of such lawsuits was to “make the enemy pay” – that “enemy” being comprised of practically anyone who organizes for Palestinian rights.

Goldstein, director of the Lawfare Project, a pro-Israel group founded with the support of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, has also asserted that “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian person.”

In April, several plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the American Studies Association, aimed at forcing it to undo its 2013 vote to boycott Israeli institutions.

John K. Wilson, an editor of Academe Blog, a publication of the American Association of University Professors, described the lawsuit as “frivolous litigation designed for the sole purpose of getting the government to suppress the freedom of speech of a private organization.”

But just this month, a one-person outfit called the Zionist Advocacy Center filed yet another frivolous lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs who are not even members of the American Studies Association.

Radhika Sainath, an attorney for the legal advocacy group Palestine Legal, told Inside Higher Ed that the complaint is “a meritless lawsuit based on a hypothetical injury that will be thrown out of court in a heartbeat.”

NLRB Confirms Legality of Union Support for Boycott of Israel; Union Condemns Political Attacks on BDS (UE)

View in searchable PDF format: Press Release_NLRB dismisses BDS charge against union

Screenshot 2016-07-22 16.26.35

NLRB Confirms Legality of Union Support for Boycott of Israel;
Union Condemns Political Attacks on BDS

July 22, 2016 – For Immediate Release
Media contacts: Peter Knowlton, UE General President, 774-264-0110
Al Hart, UE News Managing Editor, alan.hart@ueunion.org, 419-450-6994

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has reaffirmed its dismissal an unfair labor practice charge brought by an Israeli law firm against a U.S. union, the United Electrical Workers, over its support of protests against Israeli policies including the union’s endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) movement.

At its national convention in Baltimore August 16-20, 2015, the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) adopted a resolution endorsing the BDS movement to pressure Israel to negotiate peace with the Palestinians and end the occupation. UE is the first national U.S. union to endorse BDS. The full resolution is attached.

On October 23, the Israeli law firm Shurat Hadin filed a charge with the NLRB alleging that UE’s resolution violated the prohibition in U.S. labor law against “secondary boycotts.” The union disputed the charge, arguing that Shurat Hadin’s action was an attempt to interfere with the First Amendment rights of the union and its members to express opinions on political and international issues, and also that the Israeli firm’s allegation were factually untrue. On January 12, Region 6 of the NLRB dismissed the charge. Shurat HaDin then appealed to the Office of the General Counsel of the NLRB, and on May 26 that office denied the appeal.

UE National President Peter Knowlton says the union “welcomes the labor board’s decision” to reject, for a second time, Shurat Hadin’s charge. He said that UE in the past had “withstood attempts by the U.S. government to silence us during the McCarthy era in the 1950s,” and was “unbowed by the latest attempt of a surrogate of the Israeli government to stifle our call for justice for Palestinian and Israeli workers.” Knowlton added, “The NLRB’s decision is a victory for the growing BDS movement across the U.S., which faces increasing political attempts to silence and intimidate critics of the Israeli government. As Americans who have a constitutional right to criticize our own government, we certainly have a right to criticize and, if we choose, boycott a foreign government that is heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.”

UE General President Peter Knowlton commented: “Since the 1980s, the delegates to our national conventions have voted to support equal rights and even-handed treatment of Palestinian and Israeli people as the only path to peace. At the 2015 convention UE delegates voted to support BDS because of the atrocities committed by the Israeli government in Gaza in 2014, and the increasing discrimination and repression of Palestinian people and workers by the Israeli government and military. Our U.S. tax dollars, in excess of $3 billion a year, are funding this system of apartheid, and we must do more to change it.”

UE is very concerned about attacks on the BDS movement by U.S. politicians who advocate or have adopted resolutions, executive orders, and statutes targeting the BDS movement, said Knowlton. He pointed out that the 2016 party platforms of both the Democrats and Republicans condemn BDS. “These are unconstitutional attacks on free speech,” said the union president. “Boycotts have been an essential component of non-violent struggles for workers’ rights and other struggles for justice throughout our history. The Montgomery Bus Boycott launched the modern Civil Rights Movement. The worldwide campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s helped end the apartheid system in that country.”

“UE opposes any legislation and legislative resolutions that outlaw or condemn legitimate criticism of Israel and support for BDS, or attempt to sanction individuals, organizations, companies or governments simply because they have legitimately criticized Israel or supported BDS. We will support legal and political challenges to overturn such attacks on fundamental civil liberties.”

UE is an independent, member-run union, with headquarters in Pittsburgh, representing 30,000 workers across the country in the private and public sectors. At its five-day convention last August member delegates acted on 37 resolutions on collective bargaining, organizing, and political issues.

Shurat Hadin is an Israeli organization that uses legal cases to harass supporters of Palestinian rights and critics of Israel, a strategy known as lawfare. Its most infamous case was a 2011 lawsuit against former President Jimmy Carter for writing a book critical of Israel, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The suit against Carter failed, as did a suit aimed at censoring Al Jazeera’s reporting. Its attacks on UE began Sept. 2, 2015 when Shurat Hadin wrote a letter to the CEO of the General Electric Company, UE’s largest employer, “warning” GE to “rescind its recently concluded labor agreement” with UE because Shurat Hadin didn’t like the union’s resolution on Israel and Palestine. On July 11, 2016, Shurat HaDin sued Facebook for $1 billion, charging the social media company with insufficiently censoring Palestinians.

The global BDS movement arose from a 2005 call by Palestinian trade unions and human rights groups. UE’s resolution also calls for a cutoff of U.S. aid to Israel and for U.S. support for a peace settlement on the basis of self-determination for Palestinians and the right to return. With its resolution UE joined the South African labor union confederation COSATU, Unite the Union in Britain and many other labor unions around the world in supporting BDS as a step toward justice and peace in Palestine and Israel.

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Friday in NYC — Imprisoned Resistance: Politics of Incarceration in Palestine & the U.S.

5 WAYS to support Palestinian Liberation within the Bay Area

View in searchable PDF format: 5 Ways to Support Palestine_Final

Screenshot 2016-07-08 20.39.54

 

LFP Bulletin: Labor for Palestine Testifies at NY Transit Board Against Cuomo’s Anti-BDS Blacklist — and more

View in PDF format: LFP BulletinScreenshot 2016-07-05 21.18.31

Les luttes de la classe ouvrière palestinienne et le mouvement mondial de solidarité pour la Palestine

fsm_logo_frLes luttes de la classe ouvrière palestinienne et le mouvement mondial de solidarité pour la Palestine / The struggles of the palestinian working class and the global solidarity movement for Palestine / Las luchas de la clase trabajadora palestina y el movimiento de solidaridad global para Palestina

Atelier de discussion

Avec / with / con :
PALESTINIAN GENERAL FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS (PGFTU)
PALESTINIAN POSTAL SERVICES WORKERS UNION (PPSWU)
PALESTINE NEW FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS (PNFTU)

Avec l’appui / with the support of / con el apoyo de :
ELA (Pais Vasco), CIG (Galicia), CSN (Québec), CUT (Brasil), CGIL (Italia), STTP/CUPW (Canada), USS (France)

L’atelier mettra l’accent sur les conditions de travail et de vie de la classe des travailleuses et travailleurs palestiniens, la lutte pour la justice sociale, le travail décent, les réalités particulières du travail syndical sous un régime d’occupation, les défis du mouvement ouvrier et la lutte politique pour la libération de la Palestine. Ensuite, la discussion sera ouverte sur la façon dont les syndicats et les organisations à l’extérieur de la Palestine peuvent agir en solidarité avec les travailleuses et travailleurs palestiniens.

The workshop will focus on the conditions of the Palestinian working class, the struggle for social justice, decent work, the particular realities of the union work under an occupation regime, the challenges of the Labor movement and the political struggle for the liberation of Palestine. The discussion will then open on how unions and organizations outside Palestine can act in solidarity with the Palestinian Workers.

El taller se centrará en las condiciones de trabajo y de vida de la clase trabajadora palestina, la lucha por la justicia social, el trabajo decente, las realidades particulares del trabajo sindical bajo un régimen de ocupación, los retos del movimiento obrero y la lucha política por la liberación de Palestina. A continuación, la discusión se abrirá en cómo los sindicatos y organismos fuera de Palestina pueden actuar en solidaridad con los trabajadores palestinos.

Intervenants

À venir, PALESTINIAN GENERAL FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS (PGFTU)
À venir, PALESTINIAN POSTAL SERVICES WORKERS UNION (PPSWU)
Jamal Juma, PALESTINE NEW FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS (PNFTU)

Atelier de discussion
Activité à confirmer
Date et heure à déterminer
Emplacement à déterminer
Langue(s) principale(s) de l’activité

Français, Anglais, Espagnol, Arabe

Traduction simultannée

Français, Anglais, Espagnol

Publics cibles

Général, Jeunes (13 à 17 ans), Jeunes (18 à 35 ans), Aînés, Femmes, Travailleurs et travailleuses, Personnes en situation de handicap, Autochtones, LGBT, Personnes racisées, Personnes en situation précaire

Activité étendue sur internet

non

Dernière modification
20 June 2016
Les luttes de la classe ouvrière palestinienne et le mouvement mondial de solidarité pour la Palestine / The struggles of the palestinian working class and the global solidarity movement for Palestine / Las luchas de la clase trabajadora palestina y el movimiento de solidaridad global para Palestina
Organisation responsable de l’activité

Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)

Administrateurs

Nathalie Guay

Thème

Décolonisation et autodétermination des peuples

Objectifs

Informer / Sensibiliser
Débattre / délibérer / discuter
Proposer / Développer des alternatives
Converger pour l’action / décider
Développer des partenariats / Constituer des alliances