UAW recently announced plans to create a “working group” focused on researching Israeli ties to labor in the US as part of its “Just Transition” plan. This SOUNDS good, but the UAW has a history of using trendy language to conceal its investments in maintaining capitalist labor structures and suppressing the voices of the rank and file both across its executive board and in our UC-UAW locals. This ultimately does nothing to transform our working conditions in the US nor the settler colonialism raging a genocide on Palestinians right now. We’ve debunked the UAW’s “Just Transition” to show you what it’s REALLY about😮💨🍉
ALT TEXT & CREDIT CONTINUED IN COMMENTS
The Myth of “Just Transition”
Top right corner: UCI’s mascot, Peter the Anteater, wearing a Free Palestine T-shirt with Palestinian flag background. Below it are the instagram accounts of the content creators: @rankandfileirvineand @uc_rnf_zine
Collage in the middle: A big crimson square is the background. On the right side, a black & white photograph of a white female worker producing machine guns while smoking, with unionist symbols behind her. On the left side, an image of a military bomb on top of a green washi tape, a cartoon art of a scared family displaced by war, a ruined city on fire, and yellow smoke produced by the bombing.
Bottom: Content of the post:
I: What it is and why it betrays Palestinians [1-4]
II: How it disempowers UAW 2865 members [5-6]
III: Rank & File Solidarity Vision & Call for Action [7-8]
CREDIT Slide 5:
Top half: Rally image from the article How They Stopped Work At The Raytheon Facility: Report On A Day of Blockading on CrimethInc. (Instagram: @crimethincredux) Arabic calligraphy art on the cover of A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry. “A Blade of Grass” is from Mahmoud Darwish’s quote, “Against barbarity, poetry can resist only by cultivating an attachment to human fragility, like a blade of grass growing on a wall as armies march by.” The artist is Belal Khaled, who is also a photo-journalist in Gaza right now with an active account (Instagram: @belalkh) reporting from the frontline of the genocide.
Bottom left: Poster with the text “A victory for the Palestinian people – a victory for the people of the world”. This image was used to advertise a 52-minute black and white film entitled “Revolution Until Victory” that came out in 1973 from Single Spark Films emerged out of the film production company called California Newsreel, after the group split. Single Spark Films was associated with a Marxist group in the San Francisco Bay area called the Bay Area Revolutionary Union. The photo might have been taken by noted photographer and Palestine activist Jeff Blankfort in Jordan’s Schneller refugee Camp when he was a photographer working with Liberation News Service in Jordan in 1970-71. Source: The Palestinian Poster Project Archives
Bottom right: original photography is from Fred Glass’ book, From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Content of image: Governor Edmund “Pat” Brown signed the Fair Employment Practices Act on April 16, 1959, as leaders in the FEP coalition celebrate their organizing achievement. Left to right: Bill Becker, Jewish Labor Committee; state senator Richard Richards; Neil Haggerty, California Labor Federation; state senator George Miller; Nathan Colley, NAACP; state assembly member Byron Rumford; C. L. Dellums, Sleeping Car Porters and NAACP; Max Mont, Jewish Labor Committee; state assembly member Augustus Hawkins; and Franklin Williams, NAACP. African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library.
Alt Text Slide 3
Collage no. 2 entitled “No Performative Solidarity!”
On the top: a big sea shell shape background in red and green, with “COLONIAL GENOCIDE” written on it. An arrow points the text to a red “STOP” sign. A small scrap papers in the shape of 1947 Palestine map are pasted on each side. Written in calligraphy by an unknown artist, the Arabic quote on the papers can be translated as “We have on this land all of that which makes life worth living” from Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish Poem “On This Land”.
In the middle: To the right, a big block of white text on a black background that reads, “The UAW has recently adapted this rhetoric to advocate for a just transition away from Israeli industry. According to a Dec. 1 statement from UAW 2865 leadership, preceded by the UAW International signing onto a US Labor for Peace statement which called for a ceasefire while equivocating between Israeli and Palestinian “loss of life” in the aftermath of the October 7th resistance action, the UAW International Executive Board has “committed to form a Divestment and Just Transition working group” to “investigate our union’s potential economic ties to the conflict and explore how we can effect a just transition from war to peace for US workers”. On a local level, this has been discussed by union leadership as the only and primary concrete action the UAW will pursue in service of divestment, effectively stalling militant solidarity action while paying lip service to BDS. While it boosts the UAW’s reputation and symbolic capital, it severely harms global solidarity building.”. To the left, an art by Safiyas (Instagram: @Safiyas_designs) depicting the backs of a Gazan father and his daughter on his shoulder in front of an olive tree, while they are looking at the Dome of the Rock in the far distance. This is the father who recently lost his beloved daughter during an Israeli bomb raid of their home and touchingly lamented “She is the soul of my souls”.
Small images of olive leaves, pigeons, old Gazan architectures, and watermelons are collaged around the bottom of the piece.
CREDIT Slide 9: Top right art: Prisoners’ day (يوم الأسير الفلسطيني), egg tempera, 1980, by Silman Mansour (Instagram: @sliman.mansour)
Historical image of gaza from Matson Collection – Library of Congress Catalog: https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/matpc/item/mpc2010000265/PP Original url: https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.22887,Title: Southern Palestine, Hebron, Beersheba and Gaza area. Gaza, central section Abstract/medium: G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection;
Calligraphy arts “راجعين” (We will return), “هي أمي ..أمني،مأمني،أمتي،إيماني ..” (She is my mother .. My security, my security, my nation, my faith..), and “بكل الفخر” (Made in Gaza) by Belal Khaled (Instagram: @belalkh)
CREDIT Slide 2:
Top left blue Arabic calligraphy in the shape of oceanic wave: Calligraphy by Ahmad Zoabi (Instagram: @ahmad_zoabi) for the cover art of Silencing the Sea: Secular Rhythms in Palestinian Poetry. Arabic text is an excerpt from an untitled poem by ʿAbd al-Jabbār ibn Hamdīs (d. circa AD 1132–33), a Sicilian and Andalusian Arab poet. A horrifying [sea] whose rider would be nothing but a transgressor / If it were not, in the Quran, a sign to wonder / Because of what they witnessed, my eye or my ear / Continue to warn my heart about a relentless fear. Translation by Khaled Furani.
Bottom image: British trade unionists blockade a weapons factory on November 10th, 2023, Gareth Fuller / Press Association via AP
CREDIT Slide 3:
Top half: A small scrap papers in the shape of 1947 Palestine map are pasted on each side. Written in calligraphy by an unknown artist, the Arabic quote on the papers can be translated as “We have on this land all of that which makes life worth living” from Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish Poem “On This Land”.
Bottom left art by Safiyas (Instagram: @Safiyas_designs) depicting the backs of a Gazan father and his daughter on his shoulder in front of an olive tree, while they are looking at the Dome of the Rock in the far distance. This is the father who recently lost his beloved daughter during an Israeli bomb raid of their home and touchingly lamented “She is the soul of my souls”.
CREDIT Slide 4:
Top half: red sign with “Indigenous Justice is Climate Justice” on it (rally image by earth.org, Instagram: @earthorg) and two persons in their respective traditional attire with a white sign that reads, “THE LAND & FOOD IS OUR JOB” (photo credit: Billie Jean Gabriel, Instagram: @trauma_healed_indigimama).
In the middle: Quotes from “A People’s Green New Deal” by Max Aji, Pluto Press 2021
Bottom half: image of Congo miners working in a cobalt mine under cruel conditions cited by Clean Tech Versus A People’s Green New Deal by Max Aji on Earth Island Journal. Industrial upgrading requires metals and metal-mining displacement of the people living on that land and pollution. Toxic levels of cobalt, which is used in electronics, have been found in the blood and urine of the miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially children.
Alt Text Slide 4
Collage no. 3 entitled “No Climate Imperialism!”
On the top: Against the background of a satellite image of deforestation, a red sign with “Indigenous Justice is Climate Justice” on it (rally image by earth.org, Instagram: @earthorg) and two persons in their respective traditional attire with a white sign that reads, “THE LAND & FOOD IS OUR JOB” (photo credit: Billie Jean Gabriel, Instagram: @trauma_healed_indigimama).
In the middle: A block of black text on white background: “We have a fundamentally different vision of just transition; one that does not put the UAW as a member-serving institution, or the short-term interests of U.S. workers, above ending an ongoing genocide. As researcher Max Ajl argues in his book A People’s Green New Deal, programs of “just transition” which focus on workers in imperial states at the expense of colonized workers ignore the global demand for a “planetary just transition”. The former model centers on a capitalist world-system governed by brutally violent imperial/colonial logics and perpetuates imperial domination by privileging the short-term material needs of a select few in the Global North.”
At the bottom: An image of Congo miners working in a cobalt mine under cruel conditions.
Alt Text Slide 5 Slide 5
Collage no. 4 entitled “No Business Unionism!”
On the top: protestors holding a banner saying, “RAYTHEON WORKERS STOP ARMING GENOCIDE”. To the right side, an Arabic calligraphy art on the cover of A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry.
Bottom: three Palestinian girls in red Keffiyehs holding weapons and fearlessly staring at the enemies from a far, juxtaposed with a black and white image of union officials in suit signing a document in an office, with all their head covered by images of potatoes.
Alt Text Slide 7
Collage no. 6 entitled “Shame on Manipulation!”
Top right: on a white paper with grid pattern, a block of text in black font: “The UC-UAW E-board’s “Just Transition” campaign creates knowledge gaps & maintains U.S. Imperialism”
Upper middle: a block of white text on a red scrap paper that says “While the current leadership acknowledges the 2014 member-led BDS resolution passed in our local, they erase crucial history of Zionist repression. In 2015, the IEB nullified the vote due to Zionist pressure, a precedent that might still be enforceable. Concealing this history depolitiizes the democratizing struggles in our union.” To its right is a collage word “conceal” on top of images of a lock in light black and a crossed eye in red.
Lower middle: a block of white text on a black scrap paper, “Local union officials are implementing a condensed timeline for voting on the “Just Transition” proposed referendum. The timeline was announced during winter break, minimizing opportunities for facilitated membership discussion, deliberation, and dissent, something imperative for rank-and-file unionism”. To its left is a collage word “constrain” with two vintage clocks juxtaposed with it.
Bottom left: a block of white text on a green scrap paper, “Local leadership refuse to specify the content of the ballot or give details on what voting for a “commitment to form a Divestment and Just Transition working group” means in terms of tasks, timeline, accountability practices, and membership participation in the working group, further stifling possibilities for members informed deliberation before the vote.” To its right there is a collage word “confuse” with a couple entangled lines in a yellow speech bubble on top of it and a maze with a human walking in it next to the text.
A giant steel chain crosses the entire image diagonally. Two birds in the top left and bottom right corners holding the keys of return sit next to the chain.
Alt Text Slide 9
Collage no. 8 entitled “Toward Labor Internationalism!”
Top right: A big block of black text on a light white background, “A true vision for a just transition means leveraging the power of the union and the strategic placement of members for purposes of concrete action in service of BDS goals; this would include, for example, engaging UAW membership working at General Dynamics, “the world’s fifth–largest military company” which “manufactures weapons used by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians and surveillance technology which is used to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border and surveil immigrant communities”, not to simply get them new jobs in order to act concretely in service of Palestinian liberation.” Underneath the text there is an image of a flying pigeon in Kaffiyeh with orange wings in the top right corner.
Left side: various military items, bombs, planes, tanks, jeeps, and a soldier holding an “Israeli” flag, crossed out by washi tapes. On top of the washi tapes are Arabic calligraphies, one in black that says “راجعين” (We will return), another in white “هي أمي ..أمني،مأمني،أمتي،إيماني ..” (She is my mother .. My security, my security, my nation, my faith..)
Bottom side under the text: (from left to right) archival image of Gaza in 1920, two schoolboys running with joy on the street with on holding a Palestinian flag, an Arabic calligraphy art “بكل الفخر” (Made in Gaza) on top of a pink scrap paper, a group of dancer performing the traditional Palestinian dabke dance, and a picture of Palestinian couscous in the background.
Alt Text Slide 6
Collage no. 5 entitled “Shame on Top-down Control!”
Top half: a block of text on a white paper surrounded by abstract line patterns. It reads as follows, “(in red) We resist UAW 2865 Executive Board’s tactics. Paid career staffs don’t get to monopolize the representation of our union!! (in black) Since October 2023, Rank-and-File members across UC campuses have been pushing BDS resolutions. Although several campuses (UCLA, UCSB, etc.) have passed a resolution by majority vote in their MMMs, leadership does not officially endorse the resolution on their website. In their occasional usage of BDS language, they ignored substantive lists of boycotted corporations and institutions in the UC-BDS resolutions drafted by rank-and-file members. By proposing to “study” our union’s ties to Israeli occupation, which an immense existing body of knowledge already built up through rank-and-file grass-root effort, the leadership seeks to delegitimize members votes and control the narrative.” A big steel office drawer was put to the left side of the text.
Bottom half: (from left to right) UAW logo in dark blue, a round “free Palestine” sign, an Arabic woman wearing Kaffiyeh chanting in a rally, a fully covered protestor holding a Palestinian flag in front of a group of police officers in yellow vests.
Symbols of cactus trees, poppy flowers, olive trees, and Handala holding the key of return, and BDS signs are pasted around the piece.
Alt Text Slide 2
Collage no.1 entitled “No Green Capitalism!”
Top half: text on a dark green scrap paper that says, “Historically, ‘Just Transition’ has referred to a broad set of programs aimed at ensuring that the so-called process of ‘greening the economy’, moving away from extractive and fossil-fuel oriented political-economic structures, is as ‘fair and inclusive’ as possible. This has primarily been the focus of UAW and other labor unions in the imperial core, which campaign to ensure that union jobs are preserved and created as so-called green industries are developed while extractive and overtly polluting industries are phased out (which would otherwise mean the loss of much employment for union members).”
Bottom half: A collage of various rally scenes. To the left, a group from Belgium’s Confederation of Christian Trade Unions, wearing green, hold banners saying “unions have solutions: Just Transition”, “There is no planet B”, “Planet First People First”, etc. To the right, a white women holding a big sign with an earth sketch and “There are no jobs on a dead planet” on it. At the bottom, a large group of protestors holding Palestinian flags and a banner with the message “THIS FACTORY ARMS GENOCIDE”, with the word “genocide” in dark red.
Alt Text Slide 10
Collage no. 9 entitled “Immediate Concrete Actions!”
Top right: an image of a “Block the Boat” action with the caption “A SHIP DESTINED FOR ISRAEL IS DOCKED IN THE PORT OF OAKLAND!”
Left side: Two blocks of black text on light yellow background, “This is how we can demonstrate solidarity, in alignment with 25+ Palestinian trade unions’ call for immediate action in five ways:” and “1. To refuse to build weapons destined for Israel. 2. To refuse to transport weapons to Israel. 3. To pass motions in their trade union to this effect. 4. To take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege, especially if they have contracts with your institution. 5. To apply direct pressure on governments to stop all military trade with Israel, and in the case of the US, funding to it.”
Alt Text Slide 8
Collage no. 7 entitled “Toward A Decolonial Solidarity!”
Top left: a big block of red text on a light white background, “As a collective, we will continue to center an anti-colonial vision and push for an immediate, concrete BDS resolution, listening to and supporting Palestinians on campus and in the broader community, and refuting the false discourse of “just transition and divestment” which serves as a tactic to prevent the radical action of which union members are capable.”
Bottom right: a block of red text on a light white background, “We will continue to pressure our UCI union leadership to hold a vote for a BDS resolution.”
Scattered around the piece are symbols of angry cats, cat claw and scratches, a rising fist, poppy flowers, Peter the anteater in “free Palestine” shirt, a megaphone, colored scrap papers, and various images of the planet.