Category Archives: Palestine Legal

Union Members Struggle for a Democratic Debate on Palestine: Statement from UAW 2865, GEO-UAW 2322, and GSOC-UAW 2110 Palestine Solidarity Caucuses on UAW 2865 BDS Vote Nullification

Screenshot 2016-05-27 09.03.37For Immediate Release
May 26, 2016

Union Members Struggle for a Democratic Debate on Palestine:
Statement from UAW 2865, GEO-UAW 2322, and GSOC-UAW 2110 Palestine Solidarity Caucuses on UAW 2865 BDS Vote Nullification

UAW 2865 BDS Caucus Press Contact: uaw2865bds@gmail.com
GEO-UAW 2322 Palestine Solidarity Caucus Contact: anna.waltman@gmail.com
GSOC-UAW 2110 BDS Caucus Contact: gsocmembersforbds@gmail.com

Three UAW Locals have overwhelmingly endorsed, by full member vote, to support boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) in solidarity with Palestinian workers and society. This grassroots momentum has only increased despite anti-democratic actions by higher up Union officials to quell debate on the issue among locals. The UAW’s Public Relations Board (PRB) is the latest body to attempt to quell labor solidarity with Palestinians by affirming the UAW International Executive Board’s (IEB) nullification of Local 2865’s majority member vote to support BDS.

UAW Local 2865, which represents over 14,000 graduate student workers at the University of California, voted in December 2014 to support BDS with 65% of voting members in favor. The vote saw unusually high turnout, greater than that of a recent contract ratification vote. A few members who opposed the resolution engaged a union-busting corporate law firm to appeal the vote. In December 2015, the International Executive Board struck down the BDS resolution, despite affirming the democratic integrity of the vote. This week, the UAW PRB, a body charged with reviewing decisions of the Executive Board on appeal, affirmed the nullification.

The PRB’s decision to uphold nullification of the BDS vote is based solely on a thread of antidemocratic thinking that misrepresents basic facts. They posit that because the UAW International president signed a letter opposing BDS in 2007 – without any record of discussion or debate within the IEB, let alone the membership – the International Union now holds a position against BDS and subordinate Locals cannot assert a different position. The PRB ignored the clear language of the resolution, which simply called on the UAW IEB to change its current position of investment in multinational corporations that enable human rights abuses. Because the original BDS vote thereby recognized the authority of the IEB, the PRB decision represents an attempted ban on even raising the debate within the UAW.

Local 2865 BDS Caucus member Jennifer Mogannam, a rank and file member, said, “This decision cannot erase the fact that increasing numbers of UAW members stand in solidarity with Palestinian workers. The PRB’s decision tells us that the President of UAW in 2007 had a different view. Clearly, several thousand UAW members from coast to coast disagree with the president from 2007. The International Union cannot just reach into a dusty file cabinet to shut down the growing number of members who want to discuss and change the union’s position on BDS.”

Liz Jackson, attorney from Palestine Legal, commented, “This mirrors the national trend of suppression: members are voting by democratic majorities to support BDS, but when the upper echelons of the power structure disagree, they frequently resort to shutting down debate from the top. This may work in the short term, but suppression of speech cannot stop a sea change in public opinion.”

A growing number of graduate student worker organizations have endorsed BDS. In April, the New York University Graduate Employee Union (GSOC-UAW 2110) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Graduate Employee Union (GEO-UAW 2322), representing over 2,000 members each, endorsed by full membership vote the call from all major Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups to impose BDS against Israel. Last week, the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA/AFT Local 3220) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, representing over 9,000 graduate workers and students, voted overwhelmingly in favor (81%) of adopting a BDS resolution.

“Already, the clear will of the membership of three UAW locals is to support our Palestinian counterparts, including workers and broader society, in their struggle against racism, dispossession, and apartheid. Despite the attempts of top-down International Union officials to crush our union democracy, the tide of rank-and-file support is against them. We will work hard to implement the will of our members until Palestinians have won justice, freedom, and equality.” – Joe Keady, GEO/UAW2322 rank & file member

Union officials suppress member support for BDS (Palestine Legal)

Palestine Legal

Union officials suppress member support for BDS

May 25, 2016
UAW
CREDIT: CLYDE ROBINSON

As a growing number of local unions endorse Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in solidarity with Palestinian workers, the United Auto Workers (UAW) Public Review Board last week affirmed a decision to nullify the BDS resolution adopted by members of Local 2865.

UAW Local 2865 – which represents over 14,000 graduate student workers at the University of California (UC) – voted by an overwhelming majority in December, 2014 to demand that their union and their employer, the UC, divest from companies complicit in human rights violations against Palestinians. A few members who opposed the resolution engaged a union-busting corporate law firm to appeal the vote. In December 2015, the International UAW, which oversees Local 2865, nullified the vote – despite its own finding that the local conducted a fair and democratic election. The local union appealed, and last week, the union’s Public Review Board affirmed the nullification.

The new decision reasons that because the UAW International president signed a letter opposing BDS in 2007, UAW now holds a position against BDS, and subordinate membership groups cannot assert a different position. But this reasoning ignores the fact that the 2007 statement was signed without any record of discussion among the Executive Board, much less any debate among the UAW’s membership.

Rank and file member of Local 2865, Jennifer Mogannam, said, “This decision cannot erase the fact that increasing numbers of UAW members stand in solidarity with Palestinian workers. … Clearly, several thousand UAW members from coast to coast disagree with the president from 2007. The International union cannot just reach into a dusty file cabinet to shut down the growing number of members who want to discuss and change the union’s position on BDS.”

Liz Jackson, Palestine Legal staff attorney, commented, “The nullification reflects the national trend of suppression. People are voting by democratic majorities to support BDS. But when higher officials disagree – like state legislators, university administrators, and presidential candidates – they resort to shutting down debate from the top. This may work in the short term, but attempts to suppress speech cannot stop a sea change in public opinion.”

Popular support for BDS is growing as three more graduate student worker organizations adopted resolutions this spring. In April, the New York University Graduate Employee Union (GSOC-UAW 2110) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Graduate Employee Union (GEO-UAW 2322), representing 2,000 members each, endorsed by full membership vote the call from all major Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups to impose BDS against Israel.

Last week, the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA/AFT Local 3220) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, representing over 9,000 graduate workers and students, also voted overwhelmingly in favor of adopting a BDS resolution.

The announcement of the establishment of the new Palestinian trade Unions

View in PDF format: The announcement of the establishment of the new Palestinian trade Unions

Screenshot 2016-07-24 17.47.33
The announcement of the establishment of the new Palestinian trade Unions

On Saturday, 19.03.2016 it was announced the establishment of the new Palestinian trade unions in Ramallah by the presence of Mr. Nasser Kitami, Undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Labor and Bassam Salhi, secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party and Omar Shehadeh, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and representatives for the Palestine Committee Trade Union Section Norway, and with the participation of representatives of civil society organizations, trade unionists and a large representatives from the members of the New Unions.

Mohammad Jawabrah opened the trade union congress and he announced the birth of the organization of new Palestinian trade union that its responsibility is to defend the rights of the Palestinian people to live in justice, democracy society in order to get the freedom. Mr. Nasser Kitami, undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Labor congratulated the participants because of their success conference and he wished to them the success and he expressed the readiness of the Ministry of Labour for cooperation in all areas of trade union work and social partnership that providing the possibilities for the success of trade union work enable them to defend workers’ rights. He emphasized on the importance of trade union pluralism in the work in order to support the national and social project and support our Palestinian people.

Bassam Salhi, secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party emphasized on the development and support of the union work to strengthen its role in defending of the interests of workers and to improve their living conditions and the achievement the social justice. He also talked about the trade union pluralism which does not contradict with the unity of the union work.

Salhi talked about the Struggle experience for the teachers and he called for learning from this experience and the importance of equal the rights between all professional sectors.

Omar Shehadeh, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine conveying the greetings of Secretary General Ahmad Saadat and his deputy, Abu Ahmed Fouad to conferences and he support this Union in the hope that defending the rights of Palestinian workers and to promote the international solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Shehadeh emphasized on the importance of the Palestinian uprising and its goal and it still until the end of occupation and settlement and he praised on the movement of the teachers, and they should take all their rights in all the fields.

From the Palestine Committee of Norway, and trade unions in Norway, Mr. Thomas emphasized on his support to NU and support the struggle of the Palestinian people through resistance to the occupation and the settlements, and the parole of breaking connections with Histadrut in the Norwegian trade unions.

From the old unionists, Adnan Dagher talked about his experience of struggle and the trade union and the role that played by the trade union movement in the national and social field, and he called the members of NU to learn and rework union work to achieve the rights of the workers.

Finally Mohammad Bladi, the President of the Constituent Committee of the NU thanked the audience and the participants and all those who provided support to NU until this conference.

Thomas greeting the Congress on behalf of the Norwegians

Bladi talked about the stages of the establishment by adopting the workers’ issues who abandoned them by frameworks Official unions, which pushed for the need to build a new trade union organization depends on associative class, voluntary, democracy and independence and enable the workers to struggle in order to stop the violation of their dignity and disregard their rights and stop rebates unwarranted for those who working in Israel and retrieve the organize fees that are shared between the Histadrut and the number of trade unions, Bladi emphasized that they want unions that can struggle in order to apply the labor law and the minimum wage and the reduction of fatal work injuries and the creation of a labor court and social security should be fair and just.

After the end of the party opening, the conference started working through the verification of the quorum law of the Conference, which was attended by a large number of its members, and there was serious discussions about the rules of procedure for the union which was approved unanimously.

Last was elected the union council, consisting of 31 members of the Federation, who elected an executive committee composed of 17 members who are:-

1. Fadwa Qasmia
2. Nahla Othman
3. Wafaa Nassif
4. Salwa Odeh
5. Ali Rezqallah
6. Faed Ibdah
7. Zahi Zalmout
8. Fahd Mulaitat
9. Mohammed Wajih
10. Jaber Tmezi
11. Mustafa Shata
12. Rebhi Bakr
13. Hussein Barghouti
14. Jamal Juma
15. Mahmoud Abdel Razek Mohsen
16. Mohammad Bladi
17. Mohammad Jawabra

With our best regards Mohammad Blidi NU

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