Category Archives: U.S. Labor News

Victory! We salute the striking Palestinian prisoners (Labor for Palestine)

May Day Speech NYC

May Day Speech
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; Labor for Standing Rock; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Union Square NYC, May 1, 2017

*From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!
*Viva, Viva Palestina!

As we gather here today, more than 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners are in their 15th day of a hunger strike against conditions that Amnesty International calls “unlawful and cruel.” Their action is part of a long international tradition, including the hunger strike held last fall by prisoners in the United States.

But the Israeli government — which receives $3.8b/year in U.S. weapons, and closely coordinates with the NYPD and other police agencies that systematically target Black and Brown communities in this country — has branded the strikers “terrorists,” just as the South African apartheid regime once labeled Nelson Mandela and thousands of other political prisoners.

Despite all this, unjust and oppressive regimes — no matter how powerful they may appear — always fall: Jim Crow fell, South African apartheid fell, Zionism will fall.

That’s why, like Biblical Davids, the Palestinian prisoners have answered today’s Goliath by saying: “Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.”

I am proud to say that a growing number of workers in the United States are joining them in to stand against the apartheid regime.

Since 2014 alone, West Coast longshore workers have refused to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo; UAW 2865, 2322, and GSOC-2110; the United Electrical Workers, CT State AFL-CIO, and AFT 3220 have endorsed the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) picket line, which demands an end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

These actions are in the highest tradition of solidarity, from Black Lives to Standing Rock, from New York City to Palestine.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, on April 16, 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As trade unionists have always said, “An Injury to One is an Injury to All!”

As we say today:
*Free, Free Palestine
*From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free!

ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION: “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go!”

 

From #BlackLivesMatter to #StandingRock, from#NoBanNoWall to the #InternationalWomensStrike, grassroots movements for human liberation increasingly recognize #Palestinian liberation as a central component of intersectionality.

Join some of the leading representatives from these movements to discuss how we can deepen coalition building and a united front within mushrooming resistance in the Trump era.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 22nd
6:30 PM: Reception with refreshments
7:00 PMRound Table starts promptly

WHERE: Formerly Johnie’s Coffee Shop 
6101 Wilshire Blvd, (at Fairfax) Los Angeles, CA 90048

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MODERATOR: Garik Ruiz, the North America Liaison for the Palestinian#BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. He works with local and national partners throughout North America to support BDS campaigns and be a direct link for local organizers back to the BNC leadership in Palestine. Garik spent 6 months in Palestine at the height of the second Intifada in 2002 and 2003 working with Palestinians resisting the occupation non-violently through the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). LA-based Garik has been deeply involved in local struggles for racial and environmental justice over the years.

ROUND TABLE PANELISTS:

 
Amani Al-Hindi Barakat, Palestinian-American community organizer, refugee born in Kuwait, and originally from the village of Tantoura in the suburbs of Haifa. Currently the National Chair of Al-Awda the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and a board member of the newly launched Palestine Foundation; organizer of many of So-Cal Palestinian Solidarity actions.

Alfredo Gama,
 member Papalotl Brown Berets; undocumented (illegal) youth organizer; organizer of many of the recent large immigration #NoWallNoRaid protests in the Los Angeles area.

Robert Gardnerstudent activist; member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCLA, who has been targeted by ultra rightwing Zionists for his activities; a senior studying Political Science, African American Studies, and Urban Planning.

Nana Gyamfi, member and co-founder of Justice Warriors 4 Black Lives, a network of attorneys and non-attorneys dedicated to providing legal support for the Movement for Black Lives, which includes BLMLA; represented all the BLMLA members who were arrested/had court cases/went to trial from 2014 – 2016; will continue to represent BLMLA members who ask for representation. 

Michael Letwin, 
NYC public defender; former president, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325; 1960s-1970s L.A. youth activist (Red Tide); co-founder of New York City Labor Against the War, Labor for Palestine, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Labor for Standing Rock.

Lydia Ponce, organizer with American Indian Movement-SoCal; Idle No More LA; lead organizer of all the many #NoDAPL protests in LA.

Ameena Mirza Qazi, Executive Director of the LA chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. A civil rights attorney and activist; she has worked on free speech, social and economic justice, discrimination, First Amendment, equal protection, and procedural due process issues, including #NoWallNoBan.

SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS: 
Al-Awda the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Indian Movement (AIM) So-Cal, California for Progress, Idle No More LA, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Labor for Standing Rock and LA4Palestine, March and Rally Los Angeles.

 
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Labor and Women’s Rights Movement Plan Ambitious Mass Protests to Fight Trumpism (Alternet)

Labor for Palestine Bulletin: Important Events Thurs., Feb. 2

View in searchable PDF format: Important Events Thurs., Feb


Thursday, 5-6pm in NYC:
Protest at Uber’s Headquarters NoBanNoWall
Location: 3100 47th Ave, Long Island City, NY
Facebook event page

Join us to protest Uber on the day before Uber CEO Travis Kalanick meets with Donald Trump as part of his advisory council.

**** PLEASE NOTE: We’ve updated the our protest end time to 6 PM so that folks can head over to Foley Square for the Rise Up for #RamarleyGraham protest****

Now is the time for all those who value justice and equality to join together in holding Uber accountable, not only for its complicity with Trump’s hateful policies but also for impoverishing workers.

Backed by billions from Wall Street, gig economy corporations like Uber and Lyft are upending labor standards for which workers have spent centuries fighting.

Let’s send Uber and its gig-lord allies a message: workers’ rights and democracy come before profit. #NoBanNoWall

LIST OF SPONSORS IN PROGRESS

32BJ SEIU
ALIGN New York
Black Lives Matter Greater New York
Center for Popular Democracy
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
Labor for Palestine
Make the Road New York
Muslim Democratic Club
National Lawyers Guild Labor and Employment Law Committee
New York Communities for Change
New York Immigrant Action Fund
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Progressive Action Committee
New York Taxi Workers Alliance
New York Worker Center Federation
New York Working Families Party
Strong Economy for All


Thursday 8-9pm EST:
Urgent Labor for Standing Rock Conference Call with Water Protectors
In recent days, Donald Trump has met with with pro-DAPL building trade leaders and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, and pressured the Army Corps of Engineers to grant a final easement for DAPL. Today, highly militarized police made mass arrests of 76 water protectors.

In response, Chase Iron Eyes of the Lakota People’s Law Project and Last Real Indians will speak about what those of us in organized labor can do at this point to support water protectors at Standing Rock.

Call times in US/Eastern: Thursday, Feb 02, 2017, 8pm (1 hour). To participate, please register here.

Are US labor unions finally speaking out on Palestine? (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Are US labor unions finally speaking out on Palestine?

Trade union involvement is seen as key to the success of the international movement in support of Palestinian rights. Ryan Rodrick BeilerActiveStills

The trade union leadership in the US has generally been reluctant to defend Palestinian rights. Sometimes, it has been openly hostile to the Palestine solidarity movement.

Soon after Richard Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009, he denounced the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

That call has been endorsed by organizations representing Palestinian workers with direct experience of occupation and apartheid. That does not seem to have convinced the AFL-CIO – the largest federation of trade unions in the US – that it should side with Palestinian workers.

The AFL-CIO has a long history of supporting the Histradut, an Israeli union that played a prominent role in the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of Palestinians.

Moreover, the AFL-CIO has been a major buyer of Israel bonds: by some estimates, such investments are worth $5 billion.

A decision taken by the San Francisco chapter of the AFL-CIO earlier this month is among a series of small breakthroughs for Palestine solidarity in the US labor movement.

The San Francisco Labor Council, as the chapter is known, has taken a strong position against bullying by pro-Israel and Islamophobic groups.

Earlier this month, the council approved a resolution that declares full support for students and teachers at San Francisco State University (SFSU) who have suffered abuse over their campaigning on Palestine.

The resolution focuses on an incident from last year, when posters appeared on the university’s campus, alleging one professor was a “collaborator with terrorists.” The professor in question was Rabab Abdulhadi.

The posters – some of which also targeted students who had been vocal on Palestine – have been claimed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Canary Mission. Those groups promote anti-Muslim bigotry and slander critics of Israel.

Abdulhadi welcomed the resolution as a step towards building a stronger relationship between the Palestine solidarity movement and US trade unions.

“Glacial movement”

“The US labor movement has been one of the hardest nuts to crack in terms of Palestine,” she told The Electronic Intifada.

Her husband, Jaime Veve, is a veteran labor organizer, who has been active on Palestine for several decades.

Veve, who now represents the group Labor for Palestine, said that the AFL-CIO has “by and large tried to avoid the issue of Palestine and taken an official position against BDS.”

Yet he added there had been “glacial movement” by labor unions towards supporting the Palestinian struggle for justice and equality.

In 2014, UAW Local 2865 – which represents graduate student workers at the University of California – became the first labor union in the US to endorse the BDS movement.

In 2015, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America – known as UE – voted to back BDS, becoming the second. That same year, the Connecticut branch of the AFL-CIO voted to back key elements of BDS.

“Defend free speech”

Veve regards US labor unions as key to the success of BDS activism.

“If labor gets involved and begins to act, it has the potential to withdraw its investments in Israeli bonds,” he said.

The San Francisco Labor Council called for “full action” to be taken against the Horowitz Freedom Center and Canary Mission.

Ann Robertson, a philosophy lecturer at SFSU and delegate to the council, explained that the term “full action” was intended to leave all options open, including litigation.

Robertson argued that the response from Les Wong, the SFSU chancellor, to the posters had been “too vague.”

Wong had blamed an “an outside extremist group” for the posters and pledged not to tolerate “bullying behavior.”

Yet his statement did not defend any of the teachers or students targeted by name.

“He needs to clear the names of those smeared,” Robertson said, “and specifically defend the free speech rights of Palestinian students because they are the ones under attack.”

Resolution on the Freedom of Speech and Assembly for All Faculty, Staff and Students at the City University of New York (PSC-CUNY)

View in PDF format: resolution_on_academic_freedom
Adopted by the PSC-CUNY Delegate Assembly on October 13, 2016.

PSC

Urgent Call on the AFL-CIO: Reverse Support for the Dakota Access Pipeline

[To sign the statement below, please click here, including your trade trade union and/or other affiliation in the comment box]

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Urgent Call on the AFL-CIO: Reverse Support for the Dakota Access Pipeline
Labor for Palestine, September 17, 2016

As trade unionists and social justice activists, we urgently call on the AFL-CIO to reverse its disgraceful support for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

DAPL continues more than 500 years of settler-colonialism, dispossession, and genocide against indigenous people in the Americas, who are defending the Earth’s vital resources against the same corporate greed, state violence, and repression that violate workers’ rights on a daily basis.

Like the Black and Brown Lives, Immigrant Rights, Palestinian, and other freedom struggles, the courageous Sioux resistance at Standing Rock has become a worldwide beacon for all who fight injustice.

In solidarity, numerous trade union bodies — including the Amalgamated Transit UnionCalifornia Faculty AssociationCommunications Workers of AmericaIndustrial Workers of the WorldIWW Environmental Unionism CaucusNational Nurses UnitedNew York State Nurses AssociationNational Writers Union/UAW Local 1981United Electrical WorkersSEIU 503 OPEUBorder Agricultural Workers; and the Labor Coalition for Community Action, which includes the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and Pride at Work — #StandWithStandingRock.

Workers’ rights are inseparable from indigenous rights. We need decent union jobs that protect, rather than destroy, the Earth — there are no jobs on a dead planet.

An injury to one is an injury to all: #NoDAPL!

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Labor for Palestine Co-Conveners:

Suzanne Adely, U.S.-MENA Global Labor Solidarity Network; Former Staff, Global Organizing Institute, UAW

Michael Letwin, Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325

Clarence Thomas, Co-Chair, Million Worker March; Executive Board, ILWU Local 10 (retired)

Jaime Veve, Transport Workers Union Local 100, NYC (retired)

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See also:

From Standing Rock to Occupied Jerusalem: We Resist Desecration of our Burial Sites and Colonizing our Indigenous Lands (Palestinian BDS National Committee, September 9, 2016)

Open Letter from U.S. Trade Unionists to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: Boycott Apartheid Israel (Labor for Palestine, December 4, 2009)

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info@laborforpalestine.net
http://laborforpalestine.net/
https://www.facebook.com/LaborForPalestine/
https://twitter.com/Labor4Palestine
Donate: http://laborforpalestine.net/donate-to-lfp/

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This petition will be delivered to:

  • AFL-CIO President
    Richard Trumka

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

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

NLRB Upholds Union’s Right To Endorse BDS Against Israel

BY ALEX KANE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2016-07-22 16.26.35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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