February 04, 2016
In December 2014, UAW 2865, the labor union representing over 14,000 graduate student workers at the University of California (UC), voted by an overwhelming majority to demand that their union and their employer, the UC, divest from companies complicit in human rights violations against Palestinians.
The International UAW, which oversees Local 2865, nullified this vote — despite its own finding that the local conducted a fair and democratic election. The local union has appealed the decision. (Please see below or petitions to support their appeal.)
How did a small group of anti-BDS members manage to overturn the voice of the majority?
They brought in an anti-worker law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and employed textbook anti-democratic legal bullying strategies.
For those unfamiliar with Gibson Dunn, this is the firm that defended Walmart in a historic gender discrimination suit, brought on behalf of 1.5 million female workers. Gibson Dunn also defended DaimlerChrysler when it was sued for union-busting and human rights violations committed by a subsidiary during Argentina’s Dirty War. The firm defends corporations against workers who bring wage and hour suits, whistleblower suits, discrimination suits and even boasts about getting courts to uphold notoriously anti-worker arbitration provisions.
Gibson Dunn argued that Local 2865’s BDS resolution constituted biased targeting of Israeli/Jewish UAW members and scorning the State of Israel. UAW International subsequently nullified the vote of thousands of its members, despite the plain text of the resolution, which targets international companies – not the Jewish people. The UAW International also ignored ample evidence of the local union’s commitment to anti-discrimination.
Rather than engaging fairly in the democratic process, Israel advocates are increasingly resorting to desperate legal claims and false accusations that boycott and divestment is antisemitic. Palestine Legal responded to 125 incidents involving false accusations of anti-Semitism in 2015 – all allegations based solely on speech critical of Israel, such as the UAW resolution.
To support the UAW 2865 appeal, sign these petitions:
US Campaign to End the Occupation petition (for all supporters).
Labor for Palestine petition (for folks with past or current trade union affiliation)
Jewish Voice for Peace (for Jewish supporters)