Category Archives: UAW 2865

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.”

Univ. of Massachusetts Grad Student Workers Endorse BDS Against Israel (In These Times)

In These Times
THURSDAY, APR 21, 2016, 1:01 PM

Univ. of Massachusetts Grad Student Workers Endorse BDS Against Israel

BY JEFF SCHUHRKEITT

In a rebuke to their union’s top officials, graduate student workers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst overwhelmingly approved a measure aimed at supporting Palestinian human rights last week.

The 2,000-member Graduate Employee Organization (GEO), part of United Auto Workers Local 2322, passed a resolution endorsing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), a global movement pressuring Israel to respect the rights of Palestinians and end its occupation of Palestinian territory. The vote—which organizers say passed with 95 percent approval—comes just months after the UAW International Executive Board (IEB) controversially overturned a similar BDS resolution passed by University of California graduate student workers with UAW Local 2865.

After Local 2865 became the first major U.S. union local to pass a BDS resolution in late 2014, UMass grad workers were inspired to form a Palestine Solidarity Caucus. “We believed that our fellow members in GEO-Local 2322 would be likely to stand in support of such a resolution as well,” says Alyssa Goldstein, a founding member of the caucus.

But last December, the UAW IEB nullified Local 2865’s resolution. As Mario Vasquez reported for In These Times, the IEB found no misconduct in the BDS resolution vote, but ruled that the measure—which called for the UAW to divest from companies tied to the Israeli occupation—would “interfere with the flow of commerce to and from earmarked companies,” including Boeing, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin and others. Local 2865 has appealed the decision to the UAW’s Public Review Board.

Calling the IEB nullification decision “cowardly and undemocratic,” Goldstein and other rank-and-file activists at UMass remained undeterred and moved forward with efforts to present a BDS resolution to the GEO membership. “The IEB has no power to stifle this movement. You can’t nullify an idea whose time has come,” Goldstein says.

Last week’s BDS resolution vote was “not just a show of hands,” says Anais Surkin, a Local 2322 union rep and GEO member. Surkin stresses that the effort was ultimately an exercise in rank-and-file democracy. “We went through the process outlined in our bylaws. It was important to do things in a formal way, to engage the maximum number of members possible, and to be able to stand up to scrutiny.”

In February, Local 2322’s Joint Council issued an open letter calling on the IEB to reverse the decision to overrule Local 2865’s resolution. Without taking a position on BDS, the Local protested on grounds that the nullification “looks like censorship” and undermines union democracy.

Meanwhile, in another act of rank-and-file defiance against the UAW IEB, New York University graduate student workers with the Graduate School Organizing Committee (GSOC)-UAW Local 2110 are voting on their own BDS resolution this week. A group of graduate students released a statement today condemning what they say are undemocratic actions taken by their union’s leadership to prevent some students from assuming leadership positions in GSOC; some of those students support the BDS resolution. (A statement issued by Local 2210’s executive board called these allegations “completely untrue” and disputed the insinuation that students were excluded from leadership positions because of “caucus affiliation and an individual’s political beliefs.”)

From UC to UMass to NYU, the recent wave of Palestine solidarity activism is reflective of the coordinated efforts of Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU), a reform caucus of UAW graduate workers pushing the union toward a broader vision of social justice.

“BDS has definitely been a topic of discussion among those of us in the AWDU national network,” says Anna Waltman, a GEO member and AWDU activist. “But our respective Palestine solidarity caucuses drafted these resolutions largely independently of one another and with attention to our individual unions’ practices, cultures and bylaws.”

GEO Co-Chair Santiago Vidales calls last week’s BDS vote “a testament to what social justice unionism looks like. We know that our principled stand will be criticized, scrutinized and challenged. But we know that we are building a movement for liberation.”

This is not the first time UAW members have rebelled against union leaders in opposition to the occupation of Palestine. In 1973, thousands of Arab American auto workers staged two wildcat strikes to protest the UAW’s close ties with Israel. A few years earlier, the Detroit-based League of Revolutionary Black Workers—which included many UAW rank-and-filers—came out in support of Palestinian liberation.

Kevina King and Tiamba Wilkerson of GEO’s Black Caucus—whose support Palestine Solidarity Caucus members say was instrumental in getting the resolution passed—note that “international solidarity, particularly between Black and Palestinian people, is as important now as it has ever been, as both communities continue to fight state sanctioned terrorism and racist violence.”

“I’m deeply gratified to see that my union is committed to advocating for the fundamental dignity and equality of all workers and all people all over the world,” adds Ghazah Abbasi, a GEO member who voted for the resolution.

Unionized graduate student workers simultaneously inhabit the worlds of organized labor and academia, putting them in a unique position to connect student movements and the labor movement.

Although the United Electrical Workers and Connecticut AFL-CIO both endorsed BDS last year, U.S. labor trails far behind academic communities in supporting the global movement.

In recent years, student governments on campuses across the country have approved BDS resolutions, prompted by activist groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace Student Network. Several scholarly organizations—including the prominent American Studies Association—have also endorsed an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

“Speaking out about the occupation can be particularly risky for contingent faculty and grad employees,” says Waltman. “Supporters of Palestinian self-determination who teach on college campuses risk losing their jobs over something as simple asword choice in personal Twitter posts. Widespread union endorsements of BDS send a message that adjuncts, faculty and grad students in favor of BDS do not speak alone.”

Campus organizing around Palestinian rights is being met with increasing resistance, as criticisms of Israel are being equated with hate speech. Encouraged by pro-Israel opponents of BDS, last month, the University of California’s Board of Regentsadopted a new anti-discrimination policy that comes close to conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, the right-wing Zionist Organization of America recently alleged that pro-BDS groups and individuals at the City University of New York are promoting anti-Semitism, leading New York legislators to cut $485 million in state funding for the university as a way to “send a message.” (The funding cut was later rescinded by Governor Andrew Cuomo.)

Before UMass GEO members voted on their BDS resolution last week, six of the university’s faculty members wrote a letter to the editor in the student newspaper arguing that such a measure would be “discriminatory” because it “stigmatizes Israel.” Similarly, when the UAW IEB nullified Local 2865’s BDS resolution last year, it alleged “discriminatory labeling and disparagement” of Jewish and Israeli UAW members.

Even Hillary Clinton has attacked the BDS movement as an “alarming” effort “to malign and isolate the Jewish people.”

In a written statement in favor of the BDS resolution, Jewish GEO members countered that it is “anti-Semitic…to expect Jews to support Israel’s policies on the sole basis of their Jewishness.” They added that “as Jews, we feel an urgent need at the present moment to say ‘Not in our name’ as Israel commits human rights violations with impunity.”

Activists with the Palestine Solidarity Caucus tell In These Times that along with the BDS resolution last week, GEO members also overwhelmingly passed a measure reaffirming the union’s condemnation of all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism. Throughout the process, efforts were also made by the union to give BDS opponents a voice.

“In my role as union rep, I repeatedly reached out to people who I knew were in opposition to the resolution and let them know they were more than welcome—encouraged, in fact—to form their own caucus and to take advantage of union resources to organize a ‘No’ campaign,” Surkin says. “I think that kind of democratic engagement is healthy for a union and I respect it a lot, but nobody followed up, nobody responded to the offer.”

Instead, organizers say that a small number of opponents who allege BDS is discriminatory are making informal threats to file lawsuits against the union or go to the IEB, which is how the UC graduate workers’ resolution was eventually overturned.

“Opposition from within GEO has been extremely limited and without any grassroots support,” Goldstein says. “There were just a handful of people who came to the GEO open forum to speak out against the resolution, and most of them weren’t GEO members or grad students at all.”

Organizers say they will now urge the university and the UAW International to divest from Israeli state institutions and from companies that do business with Israel, as well as call on other labor organizations—including the Massachusetts AFL-CIO—to also endorse BDS.

The author was a GEO-UAW 2322 member at UMass-Amherst from 2012 to 2014. He never held an official position in the union and was in no way involved in their BDS efforts.

Jeff Schuhrke is a Summer 2013 editorial intern at In These Times.

Did New York union nix election because of BDS referendum? (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Did New York union nix election because of BDS referendum?

gsoc-votes
NYU graduate workers’ union GSOC is proceeding with election and BDS referendum despite UAW’s pre-emptive declaration of result by “accalamation.” (via Facebook)

The unionized graduate student workers at New York University were supposed to be voting on their union representatives this week along with a referendum to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

But last Friday night, union members were stunned to discover that the executive board of United Auto Workers Local 2110 had selected their delegates and stewards for them, effectively canceling the election.

Unilaterally, the leaders of UAW Local 2110 had disqualified more than half of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee’s (GSOC) nominated candidates.

Leaving just enough candidates to fill the open positions, the leadership announced the results of an election by acclamation.

GSOC was formally recognized by NYU in December 2013. It is a unit within UAW Local 2110, which represents a variety of professional workers in Manhattan.

Now, GSOC is telling its members to disregard the edict from the parent union and vote this week in an election that will include all the disqualified candidates.

Attempt to interfere

Those who had been disqualified overwhelmingly represented the left-leaning Academic Workers for a Democratic Union caucus, who were also integral to organizing the union’s referendum on whether to back BDS.

UAW Local 2110 leaders also tried to persuade GSOC to postpone the BDS referendum, raising further concerns among members.

“The local seems to have unilaterally hand-selected specific candidates in an opaque process that has arbitrarily excluded several members with particular political affiliations and caucus memberships,” the GSOC communications committee and votes committee wrote in a letter to the union’s more than 2,000 members.

“We are very disappointed by this attempt of the local to interfere with our right to elect our own unit representatives via democratic ballot,” the letter adds.

In a follow-up email, the local’s leadership explained that the candidates had been disqualified because they did not meet eligibility requirements to run. The email explained that in order to be eligible to serve as a union steward or delegate, a candidate must have worked the previous two semesters.

But what constitutes “work” as a graduate student is not so clear cut. Shelly Ronen, who serves on the GSOC’s votes committee, told The Electronic Intifada that narrow eligibility criteria of what qualifies as work do not make sense for graduate students, whose work is not limited to their salaried employment as teaching and research assistants.

Moreover, the leadership had been inconsistent and had refused to clarify the eligibility requirements in the lead up to the election, Ronen said.

Emails seen by The Electronic Intifada did not relate specifically to candidate eligibility requirements but did show that Ronen had repeatedly requested a current membership list for GSOC from UAW Local 2110, but that this was not forthcoming.

In her emails to officials, Ronen explained that an up-to-date membership list was needed so that GSOC could administer a fair and secure secret ballot on the BDS question.

Disqualifying BDS organizers

As for the election, the UAW Local 2110 leadership disqualified at least 14 candidates, 10 of whom were organizing the union’s referendum on BDS.

In a petition to the president of UAW Local 2110, GSOC notes that several members of the GSOC’s anti-BDS caucus, which calls itself the Open Dialogue caucus, were installed as representatives.

In an email to all members of UAW Local 2110 sent on Wednesday, the leadership denied any partisan reasons for the disqualifications.

“The stewards and delegates elected were eligible members from both opposing caucuses,” the local stated. “Caucus affiliation and an individual’s political beliefs had absolutely nothing to do with what is a fundamental qualification for election – working under the contract and paying dues.”

But some GSOC members are not convinced.

“We don’t see it as a coincidence that suddenly they changed the eligibility requirements for people who want to run for official positions in our unit, at the time when we have the BDS referendum,” Maya Wind, a disqualified candidate for a steward position and a member of the GSOC for BDS Caucus, told The Electronic Intifada.

“This is a political attempt to silence the left students and those who care about justice in Palestine,” Wind added.

Ronen says that while the UAW Local 2110 leadership and GSOC have an ongoing disagreement about eligibility requirements for graduate student delegates to the union, the local assured the votes committee that stewards, who work within GSOC, did not need to meet the stringent employment requirements.

“They applied different eligibility requirements last election and did not warn us that their most stringent eligibility requirements would be applied for this steward election,” Ronen said. “In fact, they said in person they intended on allowing us to use whatever eligibility requirements we preferred for the steward elections.”

GSOC wrote an open letter to the local’s leadership, rejecting their announcement of an election by acclamation and insisting on reinstating the ballot election.Screenshot 2016-04-20 23.27.32

BDS vote

Across four days this week, GSOC members will also cast their vote on a boycott referendum, which calls on NYU and UAW International to divest from Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in violations of Palestinian human and civil rights.

The referendum was able to reach a general membership vote after the GSOC for BDS Caucus secured more than 10 percent of members’ signatures.

In the run-up to the ballot, the caucus held two townhalls and one general membership meeting.

“It has been a completely transparent and democratic process, this is what we wanted to make sure from the start,” Ziad Dallal, a member of the GSOC for BDS Caucus, told The Electronic Intifada.

Dallal was left off the list of delegates elected by acclamation, despite meeting the eligibility requirements. Calling it an error, the UAW Local 2110 leadership reinstated him after he contested his exclusion.

But Dallal says the mistake “gives credence to our worries that they were mishandling our election.”

UAW Local 2865, which represents 13,000 graduate student workers across theUniversity of California system, passed a similar resolution in 2014.

But that resolution was nullified by international executive officials of the union in December 2015, overturning a vote by rank and file members to back the boycott of Israel.

The rank and file and executive officers of Local 2865 have filed an appeal to the UAW Public Review Board to rescind the nullification.

At the beginning of April, the president of New York’s UAW Local 2110, Maida Rosenstein, wrote an email to Ronen urging GSOC to postpone their vote on the BDS referendum until after the review board had made its decision in the California case.

“Why not wait until the Public Review Board rules before conducting this referendum? If the PRB does not reverse the UAW, the GSOC BDS resolution as it has been drafted will almost certainly be thrown out if someone appeals,” Rosenstein wrote.

But Dallal says the UC example inspired trade unionists at NYU to push forward their BDS referendum. “We wanted to follow their lead in this great effort.”

Also following the lead of UC students, the Graduate Employee Organization of UAW Local 2322 adopted a BDS resolution last week with 95 percent of the votes.

GEO represents over 2,000 graduate student workers at the the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Results of NYU’s BDS referendum are expected to be announced Thursday night.

Maida Rosenstein did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Solidarity With GSOC-UAW 2110 BDS Vote (UAW 2865)

April 8, 2016

fhammer0127tradeunions-240Dear Advocates for Justice at GSOC­UAW Local 2110,

We, members of the BDS Caucus of UAW 2865, are inspired by your campaign to join the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement until such time as Israel adheres to international law by ceasing its oppressive treatment of the Palestinian people. Calling on NYU and the UAW International to divest from Israeli state institutions, and on individuals to respect the academic boycott, are righteous and necessary components in honoring the call for solidarity from Palestinian laborers who are currently suffering under Israeli apartheid and colonization.

In December 2014, our local became the first major labor union in the US to join the BDS movement. In one of our local’s historically highest voting turnouts, thousands of members voted, by a landslide, to call on the UAW International and the University of California to divest from Israeli apartheid and colonialism and on the US government to stop all forms of aid to Israel. While the vote has since been nullified by the UAW International, the moral momentum that drove the campaign and the overwhelming outpouring of support we have received following the nullification are testaments to the fact that to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self­determination is to be on the right side of history and justice.

One of the guiding visions of our campaign was to trace connections among the logics, institutions and bodies responsible for oppressing Palestinians with similar forces and logics of oppression we experience in our own localities. This framework allowed us to draw parallels with how standing in solidarity with Palestinian liberation is central to our work in fighting for the liberation of all oppressed people, including but not limited to people of color, workers, immigrants, women and LGBTQ communities. In addition, campaigns such as ours, and now yours, highlight the critical importance of our tripartite roles as students, academics and laborers, allowing us to be the protagonists of our stories and active agents of social transformation on our campuses. This nexus reflects how the Palestinian struggle is speaking to multiple sectors and dimensions of identity, activism and people, and it provides an incredible learning opportunity for us to develop collective conversations about our rights and responsibilities to global justice. As students and workers of conscience, it is incumbent upon us to side with all who face oppression and persecution. This is as true of Palestine as it was for South Africa, and surely for the many matters of injustice and oppression we are witnessing in our own campuses and communities here in the US.

Following the UAW 2865 BDS victory, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) became the first national union to endorse BDS. The Connecticut branch of the AFL­CIO has also endorsed BDS. This growth in BDS participation among the labor movement and beyond is a reflection that, despite efforts of repression, silencing and criminalization, a movement that belongs to the people cannot be stifled. We are inspired by your courage and ethical fortitude, and we extend our heartfelt support for your efforts. We salute you for practicing ethical, justice­centered and democratic union practices, and are certain that the US labor movement in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom will only grow.

In Solidarity,
UAW 2865 BDS Caucus

American and Palestinian Unionists Build International Solidarity To Win ‘Freedom’ for Palestine (In These Times)

In These Times
WEDNESDAY, APR 6, 2016, 3:12 PM

American and Palestinian Unionists Build International Solidarity To Win ‘Freedom’ for Palestine

BY JEFF SCHUHRKE

ITT.1

In an address on Middle East policy last month, Bernie Sanders —the first Jewish American to win a presidential primary—did something virtually unheard of in contemporary U.S. politics when he called for an end to “what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory” by Israel.

The only candidate to skip the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington, Sanders instead delivered a speech from Utah in which he acknowledged that “today there is a whole lot of suffering among Palestinians” due to the occupation.

“For a presidential candidate to break from the mold, like it seems maybe Sanders is doing, and to talk about the fact that the occupation needs to end, is something that’s exciting to Palestinians,” says Manawel Abdel-Al, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU).

“We hope this isn’t just election talk,” he adds. “People were very excited about Barack Obama as well and we didn’t get much progress. But we’re hopeful.”

Abdel-Al—who lives in occupied East Jerusalem—is visiting Chicago this week at the invitation of the United Electrical Workers (UE), the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, and Jewish Voice for Peace to enlist the support of the U.S. labor movement in the Palestinian liberation struggle. He addressed standing-room-only audiences of rank-and-file unionists at last weekend’s Labor Notes conference and again on Tuesday night at the local UE Hall.

A machine repair technician by trade, Abdel-Al has been a union activist for three decades. He tells In These Times that throughout their history, Palestinian trade unions have always waged a “two-part” battle. “We represent workers in the class struggle for socioeconomic rights, but also in the national, political struggle for freedom and independence,” he says, noting that the Palestinian labor movement has managed to endure despite a century of repression and upheaval under British, Jordanian, and Israeli control.

Abdel-Al’s PGFTU represents 14 private sector unions in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, Abdel-Al says the PGFTU negotiates collective bargaining agreements with employers and successfully convinced the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) to pass a minimum wage law in 2012. The union federation is now calling for the P.A. to implement social welfare policies by next year.

Meanwhile, over 25,000 public schoolteachers (not affiliated with PGFTU) staged a one-month strike earlier this year to call for the P.A. to honor a promised pay raise that had been “left on the backburner for three years,” Abdel-Al says. The strike ended last month after President Mahmoud Abbas intervened and promised back pay and a 10 percent wage increase.

Abdel-Al’s PGFTU is not recognized by the Israeli government, leaving unprotected the approximately 92,000 West Bank Palestinians who regularly cross into and out of Israel and Israeli settlements for work. Abdel-Al explains that while many of these workers have legal permits to be employed in Israel, many others are unauthorized workers—hired under-the-table by Israeli employers—and face extreme exploitation. “When they’re injured on the job, they’re simply taken to the closest border checkpoint and left there. The employer disappears.”

ITT.2

Abdel-Al at Chicago’s Haymarket monument. (Jeff Schuhrke)

Regardless of their legal status, Abdel-Al says that all Palestinian workers in Israel, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, face discrimination, arbitrary dismissal, low pay, and a host of other issues on the job.  “All we want is freedom from oppression,” he says, asking U.S. unionists to do whatever they can to help their fellow workers in Palestine.

Heeding this call, last August, UE became the first national U.S. labor union to endorse Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)—a global, nonviolent movement to protest Israeli human rights violations inspired by the successful efforts of civil society groups to pressure South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 1980s.

While the activist network Labor for Palestine has been pushing U.S. unions to get behind BDS for the past decade, serious strides have only been made in the two years since Israel’s 2014 bombardment of Gaza, which killed 1,462 civilians. In December 2014, BDS was endorsed by University of California graduate student workers with UAW Local 2865—a vote that was controversially nullified by the UAW’s International Executive Board earlier this year. Following Local 2865 and UE’s lead, the Connecticut AFL-CIO also passed a resolution in favor of BDS late last year.

BDS is gaining traction within the international labor movement as well, with support from unions in South Africa, the UK, Norway, Brazil, and elsewhere. Last April, it was endorsed by Canada’s Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), which represents 325,000 public and private sector workers in Quebec.

“I think BDS is a powerful tool to educate people on what is happening in Palestine,” Nathalie Guay, coordinator of CSN’s international relations, tells In These Times. Guay, who helped connect the PGFTU and UE, hopes that more North American unions will not only endorse BDS, but also send their members on delegations to Palestine to learn about the situation first-hand. “Every single person who goes there comes back as an activist for Palestine. We need more of that.”

Noting the growing international influence of unions from the global south, including Brazil’s pro-BDS Central Única dos Trabalhadores, Guay predicts the international labor movement will continue to increase its support for Palestine in the years to come. “I think there will be some evolution,” she says.

This evolution is already evident in the International Trade Union Confederation—a global organization composed of the world’s major labor federations—which has issued increasingly critical statements of Israel since the 2014 assault on Gaza.

“We believe statements are not enough and hope the ITUC will change its policies in a more definitive way to help end the occupation,” Abdel-Al says. “But no matter how small, this is a positive change.”

Abdel-Al took time out of his busy schedule this week to visit the Haymarket memorial—a tribute to martyred Chicago unionists who were hanged in 1887 as a result of their activism in support of the 8-hour workday. “This is the birthplace of the worldwide labor movement. Around the world, we celebrate labor on May 1st because of what happened in Chicago.”

He wants U.S. labor activists to remember that occupied Palestinians are also oppressed workers. “Any activism, any support for us would be in accordance with a slogan that is well known by the working class everywhere—workers of the world, unite! Through solidarity and willpower, workers can make changes and bring about the achievement of rights for persecuted and oppressed people everywhere.”

Jeff Schuhrke is a Summer 2013 editorial intern at In These Times.

Afrikan Black Coalition Condemns the UC Regents Explicit Conflation of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

abc-ucla-2011
Dear University of California Regents:

The University of California Regents will discuss the newest draft of the Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, released on Monday, March 14th, 2016. As a Black youth organization with constituents in the University of California system, the Afrikan Black Coalition supports Principles Against Intolerance that seek to protect students from hate speech and harm. However the “Contextual Statement” and the “Working Group Observations” are particularly concerning.

The regental working group’s contextual statement reveals a continued attempt to silence criticism of the Israeli government and stifle Palestine solidarity activism by labeling it as anti-Semitism. We note that there have been attempts to get the UC Regents to adopt the controversial State Department Definition of Anti-Semitism, and enforce it with penalties including suspension or expulsion. This definition says any demonization, delegitimization, or double standard applied to the state of Israel is anti-Semitism. These terms are vague, and would themselves apply a double-standard to Israel, as no other country enjoys similar standards or special protections from criticism. Criticism of the Iranian or Saudi Arabian governments, for instance, is not necessarily Islamophobic. The University Regents thankfully did not adopt the State Department Definition, but the context of the Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance seems to align with the same political agenda; an issue of grave concern for all those who are concerned with justice and fairness.

The Afrikan Black Coalition is in solidarity with Students for Justice in Palestine, United Auto Workers Local 2865, (UAW2865), Jewish Voice for Peace and hundreds of UC faculty in condemning the explicit conflation of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism that is included in the introduction to the proposed statement. Section C of the proposed Principles Against Intolerance states that “The Regents call on University leaders actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and wherever they emerge within the University community.” We agree with this statement. As Black students who contend with hostile and anti-Black campus climate on a daily basis, we understand very clearly the need to eliminate bigotry from the UC system.  However, by including anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism in their contextual statement, the working group sets a dangerous precedent. Zionism is a political movement and ideology that must be subject to vigorous assessment and criticism just like all political movements and ideologies. We reject in the strongest terms possible the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Such conflation can only arise from blatant historical ignorance about the origins of Zionism as a political ideology and movement.  We recognize the specificity of calling out anti-Zionism as a craven attempt to chill constitutionally-protected speech and legitimate human rights activism.Zionism is a controversial nationalist political ideology that calls for the creation of an explicitly Jewish homeland in the biblical land of Israel. It is not the same as Judaism, which is the religion of the Jewish people. Just as Zionism and Judaism aren’t the same, neither are anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

The improper conflation of these concepts is being pushed by off-campus political advocacy organizations in order to stifle criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the unjust treatment of non-Jewish Israeli citizens and Palestinian refugees in the diaspora. It is clear that the state of Israel has been engaged in several atrocities against the Palestinians in violation of international law.  These activities are documented by the United Nations and should always be subject to vigorous criticism just like any other nation. To conflate all criticisms of the state of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic is false and dangerous. To be clear, anti-Semitic rhetoric or action is not the same as or equivalent to pro-Palestine rhetoric or action. This sentiment is echoed and elaborated upon in a letter,signed by well over 200 UC faculty members, many of whom are themselves Jewish.

In conversations with representatives from UAW2865, the UC Student Workers’ union, we have learned more about the Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance. An officer with the union spoke to UCOP Deputy General Counsel Julia Friedlander last Friday, at which point she said that there were “conflicting opinions” among University lawyers about whether the introduction to the statement was enforceable. The Regents have had many months to draft and evaluate this statement. The Regents still intend to vote in two days, even though their own lawyer admits they don’t know how this statement will be applied.

Additionally, for a motion to address what constitutes Principles of Intolerance, the process has not been inclusive. A quick glance at the Statement of Principles Against Intolerance shows that the vast majority of the document focuses on bigotry facing Jewish students, with brief mention of the serious concerns of Black, Muslim, Latin@, and LGBTQ students. Further, other groups like students with disabilities are not explicitly mentioned in their opening statement, only in Section B of the principles. This clear rhetorical focus on the needs of Jewish students over other identity groups doesn’t reflect actual data on the campus climate concerns expressed by various student communities. The Regents would do well to remember that Black students face the highest levels of intolerance and disrespect as well as a hostile campus climate more than any other group on the University of California campuses, as verified by the UC’s own campus climate surveys several times.

The experts chosen by the working group responsible for drafting this statement are more than questionable, with no women, Muslims, or experts on Palestine consulted. Experts on anti-blackness, LGBTQ hatred, or other forms of identity-based hatred were not interviewed either. Four “experts” were consulted by the working group drafting the statement, with two of them being open pro-Israel partisans. A third “expert” was Eugene Volokh, a conservative lawyer who was one of the main architects of Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action in California. For those who do not know, Prop 209 decimated the numbers of Black and Latin@ students on UC campuses, and none have recovered since. The inclusion of Volokh is a slap in the face to Black and Latin@ UC students and demonstrates that the Regents do not care about addressing structural racism plaguing the UC system. Volokh’s inclusion in this process is the kind of historic blunder that can only be explained as calculated cruelty towards and blatant disregard of Black students due to the role he played in systematically excluding Black students from the University of California. We find it unjustifiable that the UC regents made a conscious choice to include such a person to draft a statement of intolerance, something Black students endure the most of; partially as a result of our severe underrepresentation in the UC system. The irony is too thick.

According to the 2014 Campus Climate Survey which garnered feedback from over 100,000 community members from across the UC system, Jewish students reported higher levels of comfort in classrooms and departments than students who identified with any other religious group. Muslim and Christian students reported significantly lower levels of comfort (pg. 58-59). According to the same survey, underrepresented minority students, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities reported the highest levels of discomfort with campus climate. This is not to argue that Jewish students don’t face discrimination, nor to play oppression olympics. One only needs to look at the vicious rhetoric of Trump supporters to know that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are alive and well, alongside other forms of identity-based hatred that must be condemned. That said, it is clear that other groups face just as much if not more discrimination within the UC system, but one would have no idea this was the case from reading the statement as currently written.

This issue does not just affect the University of California system. What the UC does often set a precedent for other universities, and this is no different. The Afrikan Black Coalition does not support the Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance so long as it conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism or Palestine solidarity activism. We oppose in the strongest terms possible the conflations of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

In Solidarity & Struggle,

The Afrikan Black Coalition

Response to Report of the UC Regents’ Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance (UAW 2865)

Tikkun2

View in PDF format: UAW2865RegentsIntolerance031816

Response to Report of the UC Regents’ Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance (UAW 2865)

UAW LOCAL 2865
2030 Addison Street, Suite 640A
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: 510-549-3863 Fax: 510-549-2514
uaw2865@uaw2865.org
www.uaw2865.org

March 18th, 2016

To: Janet Napolitano, University of California President
The University of California Board of Regents
Professor Kathleen Montgomery, Chair UC Committee on Academic Freedom
Professor Dan Hare, Chair, University-wide Academic Senate
Anne L. Shaw, Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents

The UAW 2865 Joint Council strongly opposes the Report of the UC Regents’ Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance. While the actual text of the “Principles Against Intolerance” policy (found here[1], beginning on page 8) is relatively uncontroversial, the introductory report reads “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California,” thus directly conflating anti-Semitism (anti-Jewish bigotry) with anti-Zionism (a political ideology embraced by many, including large numbers of Jews) and labeling both as equivalently intolerant positions. While anti-Semitism is indisputably a form of discrimination, one which our union staunchly and vocally opposes, equating it with anti-Zionism is incredibly dangerous. It creates a clear chilling effect on free speech that could affect not only campus political activity, but the scholarship of many graduate students and faculty.

In addition, the introductory report makes it seem that anti-Semitism is the primary form of bigotry occurring on UC campuses, even as their own campus climate survey[2] shows Jewish students reporting the highest levels of comfort with campus climate (pg. 58-59). Only a few sentences in the Report are dedicated to all other groups facing discrimination, many of whom reported much higher levels of discomfort with campus climate in that same survey. Though it is paramount for all forms of bigotry and intolerance to be opposed, the Regent’s Report demonstrates a clear lack of awareness of the issues faced by many communities on campus.

Disturbingly, Julia Friedlander, Deputy General Counsel for the University of California Office of the President, has told the union that even the University’s lawyers have “conflicting opinions” as to whether the introduction is enforceable. The UC Regents will vote on whether to adopt this statement in less than five days, and they don’t even know what the statement means.

For these reasons, the UAW 2865 Joint Council expresses our unwavering opposition to the Working Group Report on Principles Against Intolerance as currently written and call on the Regents to start a new, transparent, and inclusive process[3]. Short of that, we call on the Regents to amend the document, removing the problematic introduction that, in addition to improperly conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, minimizes or ignores intolerance experienced by many campus communities.

Sincerely,

The UAW Local 2865 Joint Council

1 http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/mar16/e1.pdf
2 http://campusclimate.ucop.edu/_common/files/pdf-climate/ucsystem-full-report.pdf
3 https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/uc-deserves-experts-on-intolerance/

UAW Local 2865 Call to Action [“Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.”]

Tikkun2

View in PDF format: UAW2865RegentsCalltoAction031816

=========

UAW LOCAL 2865
2030 Addison Street, Suite 640A
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: 510-549-3863 Fax: 510-549-2514
uaw2865@uaw2865.org
www.uaw2865.org

March 18th, 2016

UAW LOCAL 2865 CALL TO ACTION

This Wednesday, March 23rd, the UC Regents are set to vote on the latest draft of the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.” While the actual text of the Principles is relatively uncontroversial, it is preceded by a 7 page Report that conflates anti-Semitism (bigotry against Jews) with anti-Zionism (a political ideology embraced by many, including large numbers of Jews). As expressed in a letter circulated by Jewish Voice for Peace and signed by over 250 UC faculty members, this conflation will constitute a severe chilling effect on free speech that could negatively affect not only campus activism, but vital lines of scholarly research.

Furthermore, the introductory report makes it seem that anti-Semitism is the primary form of bigotry occurring on UC campuses, even as their own campus climate survey shows Jewish students reporting the highest levels of comfort with campus climate (pg. 58-59). Only a few sentences in the Report are dedicated to all other groups facing discrimination, many of whom reported much higher levels of discomfort with campus climate. While it is paramount for all forms of bigotry and intolerance to be opposed, the Regent’s Report demonstrates a clear lack of awareness of the issues faced by many communities on campus. Therefore, the ideal outcome would be for the Regents to discard the problematic introductory Report from the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.” Barring this, we demand that the statement be rejected in its entirety and a new, transparent, and inclusive process be initiated.

What you can do:

There are many ways for UAW 2865 members to voice their concerns about this issue to the UC Regents. We highly encourage individuals to attend the upcoming Regents meeting at University of California, San Francisco (1675 Owens St.) on Wednesday, March 23rd to voice their criticisms during public comment at 8:30 am. Sign up to speak at public comment by calling (510) 987-9220 as soon as possible. If you don’t want to speak, still sign up because you can cede your time to others. Even if you are unable to sign up, please still attend the meeting to show your support for other speakers.

Furthermore, members are encouraged to send in their concerns to the UC Regents via email to: regentsoffice@ucop.edu.

In addition, we highly encourage members to submit op-eds opposing the conflation of antiSemitism and anti-Zionism to campus and local media outlets.

We urge our members to take as many of these actions as possible and call on the Regents not to conflate political critique with bigotry, and drop the introductory Report from the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.”

In solidarity, UAW 2865 Joint Council

A protest of a different kind in Palestine (Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera

Reporter’s Notebook

A protest of a different kind in Palestine

Thousands of teachers take to the streets to demand better wages, leaving West Bank schools closed for nearly a month.

WB Teachers

Teachers accuse the union of siding with the government and say it no longer represents them [Rania Zabaneh/Al Jazeera]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rania Zabaneh
Producer

It is being described as one of the largest protests the West Bank has seen in recent years.

No Palestinian flags were raised, no rocks were thrown and there was no smog from burning tires.

This demonstration was not aimed against the Israeli occupation; it was held to deliver a message to the Palestinian Authority.

Thousands of teachers took to the streets of Ramallah despite the checkpoints erected by the PA security across the West Bank in an apparent attempt to limit participation.

They chanted for dignity and justice, vowed to continue their strike until their demands of higher wages, better benefits and new representation are met.

For nearly a month, the majority of the West Bank’s 35,000 teachers have been on strike, leaving nearly one million students out of schools.

Amid the crowds, reporters gathered around one teacher. “We live on charity, sir,” Mohammad Mustafa, an English teacher for the past 20 years was screaming to the cameras, addressing President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We get hand outs from neighbours, they say these are the teacher’s children… That’s what it means to be oppressed, that’s the definition of bitterness,” Mustafa, a married father of six, told Al Jazeera.


Palestinian teachers march demanding salary increases


Like thousands of teachers, Mustafa is struggling to make ends meet with a basic salary that doesn’t exceed $500 per month.

Ali Rimawi is a newlywed who’s been teaching economics for eight years. He’s also a tile setter.

He says he wished he could spend more time at home, but he has to have a second job to pay his dues. “It’s not only that our salaries are less than others, our annual raise is limited too. Compared to other government sectors, we have a serious grading issue,” he told Al Jazeera.

The ministry of education is the second largest employer following the ministry of interior, with a budget of around $720m, most of which goes towards salaries. Any slight increase, some analysts say, would cost the government a lot.

But teachers furiously ask why should they pay for the austerity, while senior staff members get more privileges?

Over the past few weeks, the government offered to pay 25 percent of the teachers’ dues as per a 2013 agreement that was partially implemented; teachers say that is not enough. They demand the agreement be implemented in full, retroactively and within a clear timeframe.

Meanwhile, the government used mosques to urge teachers to restart their classes. It also waged warnings by taking “administrative measures” against strikers and tightened security to make it harder for teachers to reach protests in order to pressure them into ending the strike, to no avail.

What it didn’t try, observers say, is talking to striking teachers representatives.

The government says it did talk to the union. But teachers accuse the union of siding with the government and say it no longer represents them.

They are demanding new representation and say the strike coordination committees are their new address.

Yet the government maintains it’ll only speak to a legitimate, elected body… Until that happens, nearly 2,000 schools remain shut; along with an opportunity to solve one of the most serious internal crises facing the PA in years.

Source: Al Jazeera

Press Release: Locals Call on UAW IEB to Respect 2865 Vote (UAW 2865 BDS Caucus)

A man arrives at a UAW Hall before listening to Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and others seeking political office address members of the Ankeny Area Democrats in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Press Release: Locals Call on UAW IEB to Respect 2865 Vote

Stunning Development for Union Democracy and Palestinian Justice as UAW Locals Across the Country Call Upon UAW International to Recognize UAW 2865’s BDS Vote

Press Contacts:

BDS Caucus
uaw2865bds@gmail.com

Elizabeth de Martelly
elizabeth.demartelly@gmail.com

Jennifer Mogannam
jennifer.mogannam@gmail.com

In December 2015, the International Executive Board (IEB) of the United Auto Workers (UAW) nullified a membership vote conducted by University of California academic workers’ union local UAW 2865 which endorsed joining the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli apartheid. The first major U.S. labor union to endorse BDS, members voted in support of this position by a landslide, in an unusually high-turnout election. Since then, numerous organizations, including other unions, have supported UAW 2865 and called on the IEB to reverse the nullification and respect local union democracy.

So far, UAW Local 4121 (University of Washington, Seattle), GSOC-UAW Local 2110 (New York University), and a caucus of members in GEO-UAW Local 2322 (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) have issued resolutions supporting UAW 2865 and expressed commitments of solidarity with Palestinian workers facing occupation. GSOC-UAW Local 2110, representing 1200 academic workers at New York University, declares: “At a time when the BDS demand is gaining traction on university campuses and more broadly among progressive forces in this country, why can’t the labor movement play a similar role?…As proud members of the UAW, we reject this attempt at marginalizing our comrades in Local 2865 and demand that the International reinstate their vote.” UAW Local 4121, representing 4,000 academic workers at the University of Washington, issued a similarly powerful resolution which states: “The UAW International Executive Board has intervened to nullify a democratic vote of the Union’s membership in support of Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights. In so doing, the International Executive Board attempts to set a dangerous precedent that infringes on one of the fundamental rights of workers: the right to stand, even symbolically, in solidarity with oppressed peoples.” Washington workers reiterated that Palestinian trade unions have called on unions internationally to implement BDS. A caucus of UAW workers from GEO-UAW Local 2322 at UMass Amherst also declare their firm support for BDS and union democracy: “We stand with UAW 2865 and its support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. We urge you to reverse your decision, in the interests of the most basic standards of union democracy, and to send a clear signal that the US labor movement does not support apartheid.”

It is clear that a member’s appeal of UAW 2865’s vote, itself part of the anti-Palestine backlash following UAW 2865’s resolution, has backfired. If the intention was to silence debate on this issue and foreclose solidarity with Palestinian workers as a viable activist concern for U.S. labor unions, the opposite has happened: The IEB’s nullification has emboldened labor activists from other locals within and outside of the UAW to step up and voice support for BDS and for Local unions’ rights to take independent democratic stands. Before the nullification, the IEB had only UAW 2865 to contend with in its disagreement on the issue of Palestine. Now, it must contend with an increasing number of other locals who have taken steps to support UAW 2865’s right to have a position on this matter. Petitions by Jewish Voice for Peace, Labor for Palestine, and U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation have called on the IEB to reverse the vote nullification, collectively receiving nearly 18,000 signatures, many of them labor activists and prominent labor leaders across the country. Instead of having the chilling effect that opponents of the resolution desired, the IEB’s nullification has prompted an even greater response in support of BDS in the labor movement. Momentum is growing.

UAW 2865 has appealed the IEB’s nullification to the Public Review Board, a body that functions as an appellate authority for disputes between the IEB and its subordinate locals, and is awaiting a ruling.

This statement is issued by the BDS Caucus, a group of rank-and-file UAW 2865 members spanning every UC campus dedicated to organizing and advocating for equality and justice for the Palestinian people.