Monthly Archives: May 2021

Labor for Palestine with Suzanne Adely and Michael Letwin (Empathy Media Lab Video Interview)

Labor for Palestine with Suzanne Adely and Michael Letwin (Empathy Media Labor Video Interview)

Labor for Palestine was launched in April 2004 by New York City Labor Against the War and Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition to reclaim the legacy of working class solidarity with Palestine in the United States, as reflected in groundbreaking statements by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in 1969, and wildcat strikes against the United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership’s support for Israel in 1973.

In this episode, we spoke with Labor For Palestine organizers Suzanne Adely who is the Co-Director for the Food Chain Workers Alliance and President-Elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and Michael Letwin who is a public defender in New York City and former President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325.

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • The recent general strike in Palestine and about work conditions for Palestinians;
  • What is Labor for Palestine and why is it misleading to frame the violence as between two conflicting parties;
  • What led to the recent violence; and
  • Why organized labor should get involved in this struggle.

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U.S. Labor Must Stand With Palestine! (Updated Endorsers)


U.S. Labor Must Stand With Palestine!
Labor for Palestine, Nakba Day, May 15, 2021

As workers, labor, and anti-apartheid activists, we join millions around the world to unequivocally condemn Israel’s genocidal attacks on the Palestinian people: mass evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem, storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque, waves of state-sponsored violence throughout the West Bank and the ’48 areas (stolen from Palestine in 1948), and merciless bombardment of Gaza that has already killed and wounded hundreds of people, many of them children.

Recent reports by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch only belatedly acknowledge what Palestinians have always said: this is not an “Arab-Israeli conflict,” an “Israel-Hamas war,” “communal clashes,” or a “civil war,” but rather another chapter in more than a century of Zionist settler-colonialism — as symbolized by Israel’s very establishment through the uprooting and ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba (“Our Catastrophe”), whose 73rd anniversary is today, May 15, 2021.

These crimes are only possible because of $3.8 billion a year (or $10+ million *per day*) in bipartisan US military aid that gives Israel the guns, bullets, tanks, ships, jet fighters, missiles, helicopters, white phosphorus and other weapons to kill and maim the Palestinian people.

This is the same system of racist state violence that — with direct Israeli support — brutalizes BIPOC and working class people in the United States and around the world. With Israel’s knee on their neck, Palestinians can’t breathe since 1948, and we unconditionally stand with their resistance in all parts of Palestine, just as they have stood with our struggles for Black and Brown Lives, Standing Rock, migrant rights, and beyond. 

We urge workers and labor bodies in the US to join the growing mass protests against apartheid Israel, and to support the Day of Action in Solidarity with the Palestinian Uprising and General Strike: Tuesday, May 18. We uplift the Italian dockworkers who refused to ship weapons to Israel on April 14, thereby answering the urgent May 13 appeal for international solidarity, signed by Palestinian trade unions, to support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).

BDS is inspired by the worldwide divestment campaign that helped topple apartheid South Africa, and reflects decades of Palestinian boycott and mobilization against Israeli colonization. It requires not only an end to the 1967 Israeli occupation, but an end to Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and implementation of the right of Palestinian refugees to return. 

On this 73rd anniversary of Nakba Day, as Palestinians courageously resist brutal Israeli attack, we urge the labor movement to respect the BDS picket line by:

• Endorsing BDS, along with UAW 2865, the Connecticut AFL-CIO, the United Electrical Workers, IWW, and other US labor bodies, and with labor organizations around the world, who have already done so.

• Ending, once and for all, US labor officialdom’s long and shameful complicity in Zionism by divesting labor bodies from Israel Bonds, and severing all ties with Israel’s racist labor federation, the Histadrut, and its US mouthpiece, the Jewish Labor Committee.

• Mobilizing our collective power at the workplace, as demonstrated by dockers in South Africa, India, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Italy, the ILWU on the West Coast of the United States who have refused to handle Israeli cargo, and AROC’s Block the Boat campaign against an upcoming Zim Lines arrival at the Oakland Port.


On behalf of Labor for Palestine
(organizational affiliations listed for identification only)

Suzanne Adely, Al-Awda-NY; Arab Workers Resource Center; Food Chain Workers Alliance (staff); President-Elect, National Lawyers Guild; 

Monadel Herzallah, Arab American Union Members Council

Ruth Jennison, Department Rep., Massachusetts Society of Professors, MTA, NEA; Co-Chair, Labor Standing Committee Pioneer Valley DSA

Lara Kiswani, Executive Director, Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)

Michael Letwin, Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325; Organizing Collective, USACBI: US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; DSA Palestine Solidarity Working Group

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

Endorsements (as of May 23, 2021)

Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
AFSCME 3800 – UMN Clerical Workers Union
ALAA/UAW Local 2325, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem Union, Family Defense Practice Unit
DSA AfroSocialist & Socialists of Color Caucus
DSA Palestine Solidarity Working Group
Black Attorneys of Legal Aid (BALA) Caucus, ALAA/UAW 2325
Attorneys of Color of Legal Aid (ACLA) Caucus, ALAA/UAW 2325
LGBTQ+ Caucus, ALAA/UAW 2325
CUNY Adjunct Project
Labor Against Racist Terror
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Central Jersey DSA
NYC DSA Labor Branch

Individuals (list in formation; organizational affiliations listed for identification only)

  1. Daniel Ashworth, ALAA/UAW 2325
  2. Ellyn Kessler, ALAA/UAW 2325
  3. David Klein, California Faculty Association (CFA)
  4. Steve Brier, PSC-CUNY, AFT Local 2334; School of Labor & Urban Studies, CUNY
  5. Susan Morris, Former Executive Board Member, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Retired)
  6. Lisa Edwards, ALAA/UAW 2325
  7. Jamila Hammami, Steward, Co-Organizer for Labor & External Relations, CUNY Graduate Center PhD Social Welfare Program, PSC-CUNY
  8. Ryan Kelly, National Writers Union
  9. Nora Carroll, ALAA/UAW 2325
  10. Lauren Restivo, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  11. Michael Shannon, ALAA/UAW 2325
  12. David Sole, Past President, UAW 2334 (Retired)
  13. Erin Tomlinson, ALAA/UAW 2325
  14. John King, UAW-ACT 7902
  15. Dennis Gallie, UAW 249 (Retired)
  16. Goetz Wolff, Board Member, UC-AFT 1474 (UCLA); LA County AFL-CIO
  17. Ed Kinchley, Delegate, SF Committee on Political Education (COPE), SEIU 1021; Delegate, SF Labor Council
  18. Win Heimer, A&R, AFT 4200R
  19. Azalia Torres, Former Executive Board Member, ALAA/UAW 2325 (Retired)
  20. Eli Nadeau, SENS UAW 7902
  21. Susan Stout, Unifor 2002 (Retired)
  22. David Walsh, NALC 214; Delegate, SF Labor Council
  23. Dan Kaplan, Executive Secretary (retired), AFT 1493
  24. Dave King, Co-Chair, Climate Jobs PDX
  25. Lauren S. King, Climate Jobs PDX; Portland Jobs with Justice
  26. David Clennon, Convention Delegate, Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA
  27. Judith Ackerman, AFT and 1199SEIU
  28. Amy Muldoon, CWA 1106
  29. Val Sanfilippo, Retired Steward, SEIU 221
  30. Francis Cook, UFT, AFT Local 2; MORE Caucus (Movement of Rank and File Educators in the UFT)
  31. Hayat Bearat, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  32. Milad Momeni, CLSWU
  33. David Laibman, PSC-CUNY (retiree chapter)
  34. Mike Gimbel, AFSCME 375, Retired Executive Board member
  35. Elizabeth-Ann Tierney, Alternate Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  36. Ayami Hatanaka, ALAA/UAW 2325
  37. David McKeown, IBEW Local 6 (retired)
  38. Greg Giorgio, Delegate and Secretary, IWW Upstate NY Regional
  39. Carol Elaine Gay, President, NJ State Industrial Union Council; CWA retiree
  40. Alexander Hu, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  41. David Letwin, Executive Board Member, Rutgers AAUP-AFT Local 6324
  42. Alexandra Smith, ALAA/UAW 2325
  43. Joshua Strassman, Steward, Amherst Pelham Education Association, Massachusetts Teachers Association
  44. Aaron Goodwin, UAW 2865
  45. Diana Dooley, IBEW Local 6
  46. Gabriel Camacho, Political Director, UFCW Local 1445; LCLAA member at large
  47. Ron Jacobs, Steward, AFSCME 1343
  48. Naomi Sharlin, UFT, AFT Local 2
  49. Nicole Camera, UFT, AFT Local 2; MORE Caucus (Movement of Rank and File Educators in the UFT)
  50. Mark D. Stansbery, Board Member and Chair of Organizing and Mobilization, CWA 4502; Ohio AFL-CIO and Central Ohio Labor Council
  51. Jane Rubio, UFT, AFT Local 2
  52. Joan Hwang, Organizer, Workers Assembly Against Racism
  53. Rebekah McAlister UFT, AFT Local 2
  54. Jennifer Kovacs, ALAA/UAW 2325
  55. Hollis Higgins, NALC Branch 442 (retired)
  56. Leah Martin, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  57. Danielle Bullock, UFT, AFT Local 2; MORE Caucus (Movement of Rank and File Educators in the UFT)
  58. Brian Lewis, Steward and Delegate, AFSCME DC37, Local 375; DC37 Progressives; NYC-DSA Labor Branch
  59. Malcolm Sacks, UFT, AFT Local 2; MORE Caucus (Movement of Rank and File Educators in the UFT)
  60. Aisha Lewis-McCoy, Alternate Representative, LGBTQ Caucus, ALAA/UAW 2325
  61. Sara Catalinotto, Retired Delegate, UFT, AFT Local 2; Labor Against Racist Terror
  62. Susan Moir, Massachusetts Teachers Association (retired)
  63. Leah Margulies, ALAA/UAW 2325
  64. Monica Shah, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  65. Andrea Alajbegovic, LSSA/UAW 2320
  66. Lucy Herschel, Delegate, 1199SEIU, UHWE
  67. Calypso Taylor, ALAA/UAW 2325
  68. Alex Jallot, Delegate, Pace High School, UFT, AFT Local 2
  69. Yessenia Mendez, LSSA/UAW 2320
  70. Ian Spiridigliozzi, ALAA/UAW 2325
  71. Hoda Mitwally, Delegate, LSSA/UAW 2320
  72. Royce Adams, International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1291; CBTU/APRI
  73. Josh Komarovsky, LSSA/UAW 2320
  74. Will Chaney, GEO/UAW 2322 UMASS-Amherst
  75. Robert F. Williams, GEO/UAW 2322 MSCA Westfield State University
  76. Erik Mears, UFT/AFT Local 2
  77. Cherrene Horazuk, President, AFSCME 3800 – UMN Clerical Workers Union
  78. Annie Zirin, CTU/AFT Local 1
  79. Meaghan Whyte, Delegate, LSSA/UAW 2320
  80. Hector Agredano, Pasadena City College Faculty Association
  81. David McNally, Texas State Employees Union/CWA Local 6186
  82. Jessie Muldoon, Site Rep., Portland Education Association
  83. Brenda Stokely, Social Service Employees Union local 371 DC 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO; Million Workers Movement NE Region co-organizer
  84. Camila Valle, UAW 2110
  85. Alejandro Coriat, NOLSW 2320; Legal Workers’ Rank and File
  86. Vish Soroushian, NOLSW/UAW 2320
  87. Hector Agredano, Pasadena City College Faculty Association
  88. Ramzi Babouder-Matta, Steward, CWA 1180; Labor Against Racism and War
  89. Sarah Soliman, Worker Advocate, Worker Justice Wisconsin
  90. Elly Wong, Steward, NPEU (IPFTE Local 70)
  91. Naib Mian, Unit Council, Bargaining Committee, New Yorker Union, News Guild NY Local 31003, CWA
  92. Lucas Koerner, Harvard Graduate Students Union – UAW 5118
  93. Martha Grevatt, Retired Executive Board Member, UAW 869
  94. Dianne Mathiowetz, UAW 10 (retired); Producer and Host, The Labor Forum, WRFG 89.3FM
  95. Stephen Terry, ALAA/UAW 2325 (retired)
  96. Gabriella Ferrara, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  97. Patricia Lavelle, ALAA/UAW 2325
  98. Spencer Eliot Smith, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  99. Meghna Philip, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  100. Kevin Duffy-Greaves, LSSA/UAW 2320
  101. Amanda Lipari, Civil Vice President, ALAA/UAW 2325
  102. Lindsay Cowen, Delegate, LSSA/UAW 2320
  103. Karen Sullivan, PSC-CUNY
  104. Mimi Rosenberg, ALAA/UAW 2325; Producer and Host, WBAI radio, 99.5 FM’s labor program Building Bridges
  105. Benjamin Bisaro, ALAA/UAW 2325
  106. Andrew Smith, Shop Steward, AFSCME, DC 37, Local 1503
  107. Shayan Mirzahaidar, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  108. Basir Mchawi, PSC-CUNY/AFT
  109. Emily Woo Yamasaki, LSSA/UAW 2320
  110. Susan Williams, MD, Former Delegate, Doctors Council, SEIU Local 10MD (retired)
  111. Hoang Gia Phan, Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP-UMass Amherst)
  112. Michael Novick, former steward and member, house of reps, former member of Human Rights Committee, United Teachers Los Angeles (joint NEA-CTA/AFT-CFT)
  113. Robin Strauss, PSC-CUNY/AFT
  114. Maria Amor, UAW 2320
  115. Estee Ward, Make the Road New York – NOLSW/UAW 2320
  116. Noha Arafa, ALAA/UAW 2325
  117. Terry Fitzgibbons, Building Rep., NJEA/Education Association of Passaic
  118. Sherry J. Wolf, CWA 1032
  119. Damon Fillman, Steward, CWA 1032; Rutgers AAUP-AFT
  120. Alan Maass, CWA 1032
  121. BJ Walker, CWA Local 1032
  122. Lauren Tomkinson, CWA Local 7799
  123. Alexandra Haridopolos, Delegate, UFT/AFT Local 2
  124. Marty Goodman, Former TWU Local 100 Executive Board (1997-2006)(retired)
  125. Caryn Schreiber, ALAA/UAW 2325
  126. Emma Goodman, Vice President, ALAA/UAW 2325
  127. Ray Siqueiros, AFT Local 8002
  128. Stephane Barile, Site Rep., New Haven Teachers Association, CTA
  129. Nora Christiani, ALAA/UAW 2325
  130. Gregory Butterfield, NOLSW/UAW 2320
  131. Kathleen Shannon, Staff Organizer, Rutgers AAUP-AFT Local 6323; CWA local 1032
  132. Marie E. Kelly, At Large Member, National Nurses United
  133. Katherine Fitzer, ALAA/UAW 2325
  134. Pooja Patel, ALAA/UAW 2325
  135. Daniella Korotzer, ALAA/UAW 2325
  136. Angelica Barrios, 1199SEIU (Forensic Social Worker)
  137. Lauren Katzman, ALAA/UAW 2325
  138. Gloria Banasco, ALAA/UAW 2325
  139. Maureen Stutzman, ALAA/UAW 2325
  140. Omar Alam Rana, Alternate Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  141. Monica Bustos, 1199SEIU
  142. Matt Caldwell, ALAA/UAW 2325
  143. Michael Gibbons, Representative, LGBTQ+ Caucus, ALAA/UAW 2325
  144. Mirna Haidar, ALAA/UAW 2325
  145. Kip Bastedo, ALAA/UAW 2325
  146. Jonathan McCoy, ALAA/UAW 2325
  147. Joe Piette, NALC Branch 157
  148. Naila Siddiqui, Vice President, ALAA/UAW2325
  149. Hannah Deegan, ALAA/UAW 2325
  150. Mallory Harwood, ALAA/UAW 2325
  151. Titus Mathai, ALAA/UAW 2325
  152. Michael Pate, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  153. Rebecca Kurti, 1199/SEIU
  154. Kar Nowakowski, ALAA/UAW 2325
  155. Keith Malonis, 1199/SEIU
  156. Katharine Kuhl, ALAA/UAW 2325
  157. Angie Rodriguez, 1199/SEIU
  158. Mik Kinkead, ALAA/UAW 2325
  159. Sophie Cohen, ALAA/UAW 2325
  160. Neil Friedman, PSC-CUNY Retired Chapter
  161. Jordan Manalastas, ALAA/UAW 2325
  162. Leon Pulsinelle, NJEA
  163. Brianda Guzman, 1199/SEIU
  164. Larry Hales, 1199/SEIU
  165. Aissatou Barry, Delegate, ALAA/UAW 2325
  166. Benjamin Jarvis, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1520
  167. Elena Landriscina, ALAA/UAW 2325
  168. Susan Kingsland, 1199/SEIU
  169. Alex Washington, ALAA/UAW 2325
  170. Grover Francis, ALAA/UAW 2325
  171. Taylor James, Former Executive Board Member, ALAA/UAW 2325
  172. Haley Pessin, Interim Delegate, 1199/SEIU; Legal Workers Rank and File
  173. Tarini Arogyaswamy, ALAA/UAW 2325
  174. Ferdinand Cesarano, 1199/SEIU
  175. Lori Masco, ALAA/UAW 2325
  176. Patrick Matutina, ALAA/UAW 2325
  177. Kathleen Wahl, ALAA/UAW 2325
  178. Hilary Dowling, ALAA/UAW 2325
  179. Raissa Carpenter, ALAA/UAW 2325
  180. Khouloud Ballout, 1199/SEIU
  181. Laurie Dick, ALAA/UAW 2325
  182. Samantha Plummer, UAW 4100; Central Brooklyn DSA
  183. Hannah Hussey, ALAA/UAW 2325
  184. Stephanie Hedgecoke, Recording Secretary, CWA 14156
  185. Bill Riggin, ALAA/UAW 2325
  186. Ivan Pantoja, Former Executive Board Member, ALAA/UAW 2325
  187. Marlen S. Bodden, ALAA/UAW 2325
  188. Candace Graff, ALAA/UAW 2325
  189. Jeff Schuhrke, Representative, UIC United Faculty, AFT Local 6456
  190. Norman Koerner, Alliance of Charter School Employees, AFT
  191. Whitney Powers, Steering Committee Member, CWA 7799
  192. Alex Wolf-Root, President, CWA 7799
  193. Bri Dobson, CWA 7799
  194. Hypatia Ostojic, Systemwide Chair, Peace and Justice Committee, UPTE CWA 9119
  195. Patrick Langhenry, ALAA/UAW 2325
  196. James Lauderdale, Lead Senior Civil Service Advocate (retired), SEIU Local 721
  197. Amanda Achin, Classified Staff Union, Massachusetts Teachers Association; Boston DSA Labor Working Group
  198. Darrin Hoop, Building Rep., Seattle Education Association; National Educators United
  199. Richard Blum, ALAA/UAW 2325
  200. Catherine Khella, Organizing Committee, NYC DSA Labor Branch
  201. David Guerrero, Delegate, 1199SEIU
  202. Asa Mendelsohn, UC-AFT 3299
  203. Helen Scott, Department Rep., United Academics: AAUP/AFT Local 3203; VT AFL-CIO State Labor Council
  204. Nancy Welch, UVM United Academics AAUP/AFT, Local 3203; Upper Valley Democratic Socialists of America
  205. Liz Medina, Executive Director, Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; UAW 2322
  206. Ron Jacobs, President, AFSCME 1343
  207. Heidi Fox, Vermont State Employees Association
  208. John Davy, Vermont State Employees Association
  209. Shannon Dufour-Martinez, AFSCME 1674
  210. Kit Andrews, Vermont State Employees Association
  211. Stephanie Higgins, union staff, GEO-UAW 2322
  212. Stanley Heller, AFT 1547, retired; Middle East Crisis Committee (Connecticut)
  213. Susan Klein, Unite HERE Local 34, Yale Unions Retirees Association
  214. Frank Panzarella, Former President, IAM Local 1990; New Haven Energy Task Force / Fight the Hike
  215. Martha London, Professional Staff Union/Massachusetts Teachers Association (Retired)
  216. Dylan Kupsh, UAW 2865; NSJP, UCSB SJP, UCLA Grad SJP
  217. Marsha Love, United Association of Labor Educators