Category Archives: UAW 2322 (GEO)

LFP Bulletin: Graduate Student Workers Resist New Attack on UAW 2865 BDS Resolution

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Contents:

May 27, 2016
Graduate Student Workers Resist New Attack on UAW 2865 BDS Resolution
— and more, from Labor for Palestine
Please forward widely!

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
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.
Click here to read full statement
Like UAW 2865 BDS on Facebook
Like GEO-UAW 2322 BDS on Facebook
Like GSOC-UAW 2110 BDS on Facebook

Rank and file challenge US union bosses over BDS (Electronic Intifada)
“Despite the attempts of top-down … officials to crush our union democracy, the tide of rank and-file support is against them,” Keady added. “We will work hard to implement the will of our members until Palestinians have won justice, freedom and equality.”
Click here to read full article

Click below to like and share this online poster:

Like TAA/AFT Local 3220 on Facebook

Is BDS Simply a ‘Campus Movement?’How Deceitful Can Thomas Friedman Actually Be? (Huffington Post)
Michael Letwin, Co-Convener, Labor for Palestine; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325 comments, “By respecting the BDS picket line, a growing number of U.S. trade unions are honoring the most fundamental labor principle: An injury to one is an injury to all. The refusal by ILWU Local 10 dockers to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo in 2014 shows the unparalleled power of labor solidarity against apartheid Israel.”
Click here to read full article

Resource: Labor for Palestine: Challenging US Labor Zionism (American Quarterly)
Notable challenges to this dominant Labor Zionism began in the late 1960s. These include positions taken by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in 1969 and wildcat strikes against the United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership’s support for Israel in 1973. Since September 11, 2001, Israel’s wars and other apartheid policies have been challenged by New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW), Labor for Palestine, ILWU Local 10 dockworkers, UAW Local 2865 graduate students at the University of California, the United Electrical Workers, and others. Increasingly, such efforts have made common cause with racial justice and other movements, and—at the margins—have begun to crack Labor Zionism’s seemingly impregnable hold in the United States.
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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

Rank and file challenge US union bosses over BDS (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Rank and file challenge US union bosses over BDS

randi_weingarten
Union bosses, like American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, are increasingly finding their pro-Israel positions challenged by the rank and file. (AFGE)

Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this month became the latest unionized workers in the US to vote in favor of a resolution supporting the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Meanwhile a United Auto Workers review board upheld a decision by the union’s national executive to nullify a democratic vote backing BDS by rank and file members in California.

In the Wisconsin ballot, 81 percent of voting members in the 9,000-strong Teaching Assistants’ Association backed a resolution calling for divestment from Israeli state institutions and international firms complicit in Israeli military occupation and ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights.

The resolution passed by members of TAA/AFT Local 3220 calls on the University of Wisconsin, its parent union the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO national labor federation to divest.

The TAA Palestine Solidarity Caucus notes in a press release that deteriorating working conditions for educators in the US “are directly related to the rise of spending on militarism and the consequential disinvestment from public universities and the public sector as a whole.”

The union also takes aim at widespread efforts to demonize and criminalize BDS activism, including within the trade union movement where support for Palestinian rights is growing.

Challenge

TAA is the oldest graduate student labor union in the United States.

Its vote represents a challenge to the leadership of its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), whose executives have strongly opposed BDS.

As The Electronic Intifada reported last year, AFT President Randi Weingarten has tried to smear BDS by association with violence and terrorism.

Weingarten and other top union officials have used their positions to promote Zionism, albeit in its liberal form, the Israeli state ideology that denies Palestinians their basic rights.

They have also helped Israel whitewash its 2014 assault on Gaza that killed approximately 2,200 Palestinians, including more than 550 children.

AFT leaders have endorsed Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election despite the presumed Democratic nominee’s hawkish support for Israel and justifications of its killings of Palestinians.

Yet the TAA vote is another marker of a shift among rank and file union members.

Last month, graduate student workers at New York University voted to back BDS by a large margin.

Their local union, GSOC-UAW 2110, held a vote despite efforts by executives from the parent union to block a referendum and cancel an election.

A week earlier, the Graduate Employee Organization of UAW Local 2322 (GEO-UAW 2322) adopted a BDS resolution with 95 percent of the votes.

That union represents more than 2,000 graduate student workers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Overturning democracy

In 2014, UAW Local 2865, which currently represents 14,000 graduate student workers at the University of California, became the first US union to join the BDS movement in a landslide vote.

But executives at the parent union, the United Auto Workers, nullified the vote last December.

In a decision issued on 16 May, the UAW’s Public Review Board (PRB) rejected an appeal against the nullification.

The 27-page ruling “to uphold nullification of the BDS vote … is based solely on a thread of anti-democratic thinking that misrepresents basic facts,” the solidarity caucuses of UAW 2865, GEO-UAW 2322 and GSOC-UAW 2110 said in a joint statement.

According to the statement, “[the review board posits] that because the UAW International president signed a letter opposing BDS in 2007 – without any record of discussion or debate among the [International Executive Board], let alone the membership – the international union now holds a position against BDS, and subordinate Locals cannot assert a different position.”

“The [Public Review Board] ignored the clear language of the resolution, which simply called on the UAW [International Executive Board] to change its current position of investment in multinational corporations that enable human rights abuses,” the solidarity caucuses state.

The nullification of the vote represents “an attempted ban on even raising the debate within the UAW,” they add.

A leading Israel lobby group has welcomed the UAW’s decision to overturn a democratic vote.

“We applaud the Public Review Board for declaring that UAW Local 2865 had no authority to subvert the UAW International’s position opposing the BDS movement,” Dean Schramm, the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles regional president, said.

Schramm accused union members of promoting “polarizing political propaganda and misinformation promoted by the BDS movement, which seeks to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.”

In contrast to its opposition to the struggle for Palestinian rights, the UAW strongly supported divestment from apartheid South Africa. In 1978, the union withdrew all its money from banks that made loans there.

It also pulled pension fund investments from firms complicit in human rights abuses in South Africa.

Sea change

The decision to nullify the vote came after UCLA graduate student Stephen Brumbaugh and other members of a small anti-BDS group called Informed Grads filed a complaint.

Informed Grads were represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, an elite law firm with a long record of defending corporate clients, including such union-busting and environment-polluting firms as Chevron and Walmart.

Liz Jackson, an 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,” Jackson added.

That sea change is already happening. As a recent survey by the Pew Research Center found, the base of the Democratic Party is increasingly sympathetic to Palestinian rights, opening up an ever wider gap with establishment leaders like Hillary Clinton.

The support for Palestinian rights is growing most rapidly among Millennials – people born after 1980.

Similar cracks are now starting to show in the trade union movement as well.

“This decision cannot erase the fact that increasing numbers of UAW members stand in solidarity with Palestinian workers,” Local 2865 BDS Caucus member Jennifer Mogannam said, adding that thousands of union members disagree with the position on BDS stated by the UAW president almost a decade ago.

Union leaders “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,” Mogannam added.

“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,” said Joe Keady, a rank and file member of GEO-UAW 2322.

“Despite the attempts of top-down … officials to crush our union democracy, the tide of rank and-file support is against them,” Keady added. “We will work hard to implement the will of our members until Palestinians have won justice, freedom and equality.”

FSJP-UMB Supports UMA Union’s Boycott Resolution

BDS Demands1[May 16, 2016]

Press contact:

Prof. Jeffrey Melnick, American Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, (617) 838-0064

FSJP-UMB Supports UMA Union’s Boycott Resolution

For immediate release:

The Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine organization at the University of Massachusetts Boston (FSJP-UMB) joins our colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in congratulating their Graduate Employee Organization (GEO/UAW Local 2322) for its adoption of a resolution to join the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel.  The resolution calls on the graduate students’ employer and their union to divest from and boycott companies that fuel and profit from Israel’s military occupation and repression of Palestinians.

The largest collective bargaining unit within UAW Local Amalgamated 2322 (UAW 2322), GEO represents over 2,000 graduate student workers at the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts. This makes GEO the second major body of unionized workers in the U.S. to formally join the BDS movement by membership vote, after the 2015 vote of the graduate student workers at the University of California.

FSJP-UMB rejects the claim that the resolution is in any way discriminatory.  Rather, we agree with GEO workers that it is an expression of the profound truth that all struggles for freedom are linked.  Workers’ rights are intertwined with Palestinians’ rights, and liberation for some is incomplete without the liberation of all.  Palestinian students and faculty members are denied the basic academic freedoms of the right to travel and to be safe from military attacks on their own campuses.  As educators and staff committed to equal access to all forms of knowledge production, we stand against all forms of colonialism, racism, and apartheid.  These hierarchical forms of power relations make free intellectual inquiry impossible.

As educators and workers, FSJP-UMB stands in proud solidarity with UMass Amherst GEO.  BDS is a global grassroots movement, called for by Palestiniancivil society and major trade unions, to engage in non-violent, civil society pressure on the Israeli state until it ends its illegal occupation of Palestine and dismantles the Wall, grants equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and upholds Palestinian refugees’ right of return.  We will persist in this struggle until these goals are met and Palestinians and workers everywhere achieve justice and freedom.

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

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.

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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.”