Monthly Archives: December 2023

The Myth of “Just Transition” (rankandfileirvine and uc_rnf_zine)

Original online here.

nkandfileirvineEdited•3w

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

Slide 1
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]

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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.

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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.

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CREDIT Slide 9: Top right art: Prisoners’ day (يوم الأسير الفلسطيني), egg tempera, 1980, by Silman Mansour (Instagram: @sliman.mansour

Bottom: 
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)

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

NewsGuild-CWA members call on our EC to stand with Palestine

NewsGuild-CWA members call on our EC to stand with Palestine

CWA members in solidarity for Palestine. The NewsGuild must stand on the right side of history. Support a ceasefire! End US aid to Israel!

Only the members of the Executive Council will receive your letters.

As your union siblings, we understand the importance of anonymity in many of the industries represented by the NewsGuild, yet we feel the urgent need to speak up about the ongoing crisis in Gaza. That is why we need the Executive Council of our international union to be OUR voice!

As of now, over 11,400 Palestinians, 4,100 of whom are children, have been killed. At least 42 media workers (37 Palestinian, 4 Israeli, 1 Lebanese) have been killed, 9 injured, 3 missing, 13 arrested. This doesn’t include the numerous who have been victims of assault, threats, cyber attacks, censorship, or those who have had family killed.

Those who remain are working without access to food, water, or sufficient medical supplies due to the repeated bombing of hospitals, including the targeting of a pediatric cancer ward. As organized labor representing media workers, NewsGuild-CWA must acknowledge the unilateral destruction affecting the work of journalists within Gaza.

Our union must pressure the U.S. government to stop funding and supporting Israel’s ongoing genocide against Palestinians. The billions spent on weapons and war should instead be put towards life-affirming systems such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure that benefits the working class.

We implore the TNG-CWA to be on not just the right side of history, but to honor the foundational commitment outlined in our constitution: “To raise the standards of journalism and ethics of the industry; to foster friendly cooperation with all workers.” Living up to those words requires nothing less than demanding a ceasefire and an end to our governments’ aid to Israel.

LETTER CAMPAIGN BY

CWA PALESTINE SOLIDARITY

Detroit, Michigan

The Teamster Connection: Apartheid Israel and the IBT by Joe Allen

Original online here.

PASSED – BALAW Resolution For a Ceasefire in Gaza and an End to Occupation

Original online here.

PASSED – BALAW Resolution For a Ceasefire in Gaza and an End to Occupation

WHEREAS, in Article III, Section 2 of the bylaws of the Bay Area Legal Aid Workers (BALAW), we pledge “to advance the economic, social, political, and cultural interests of our members.” In Section 3, we pledge “to fight for the elimination of poverty and social injustice through our work.” And in Section 4, we pledge “to win economic, social, and political rights for all workers without regard to criteria such as: race, sex, color, national origin, religious or political beliefs or associations, age, handicap, sexual orientation, language differences, citizenship status, unfavorable military discharge, or criminal record”; and

WHEREAS, we grieve the loss of life of all civilians, both Israeli & Palestinian, and feel grave concern for the safety of all Palestinian and Israeli hostages and captives; and

WHEREAS, we recognize that the current crisis did not begin on 7 October 2023, but took place in the context of decades of mass displacement of Palestinians and the annexation and occupation of Palestinian land; and

WHEREAS, we recognize that occupation and apartheid, much like white supremacy, harms all peoples. Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine is considered illegal under international law by a UN commission, and many human rights organizations – such as Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; and B’Tselem, an Israeli organizationhave found that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians; and

WHEREAS, the Israeli government has taken actions to collectively punish civilians in Gaza (a war crime), such as cutting off food, water, aid, and electricity and conducting a widespread bombing campaign and ground assault, and Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch condemned as a war crime the use of starvation in the Gaza Strip as a method of warfare; and

WHEREAS, on 15 October, more than 800 scholars and practitioners of international law, conflict studies and genocide studies signed a public statement warning of the possibility of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; and

WHEREAS, on 14 October, a UN human rights expert “warned … that Palestinians are in grave danger of mass ethnic cleansing ….”; and

WHEREAS, many US elected officials have encouraged Israel’s escalation of violence against Palestinians and have acted to silence those calling for Palestinian liberation; and

WHEREAS, the US provides Israel close to $4 billion in unconditional military aid per year, and the Biden administration has resolved to send nearly $14.5 billion in additional unconditional military aid to Israel; and

WHEREAS, working-class people bear the brunt of the harm of armed conflict, and the safety and livelihood of surviving workers throughout the region have been heavily impacted by the crisis; and

WHEREAS, Palestinian trade unions have called on their “counterparts internationally and all people of good conscience to end all forms of complicity with Israel’s crimes—most urgently halting the arms trade with Israel, as well as all funding and military research; and”

WHEREAS, UAW International has called for a ceasefire and announced that the International Executive Board will also be forming a Divestment and Just Transition working group to study the history of Israel and Palestine, our union’s economic ties to the conflict, and explore how we can have a just transition for US workers from war to peace; and

WHEREAS, BALAW stands in solidarity with all workers, students, and people of good conscience who have spoken out in support of the Palestinian people and faced any form of retaliation; and

WHEREAS, protestors who recently occupied the Bay Bridge to demand a permanent ceasefire and the liberation of Palestine (known as the “Bay Bridge 78”) were arrested and charged by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office in a manner that we believe is excessive and chills the right to protest issues of tantamount importance.

WHEREAS, we support peaceful boycott movements, such as the one that contributed to the end of the apartheid system in South Africa, and we condemn all laws and other mechanisms meant to prevent organizations and people of good conscience from exercising the right to engage in boycott, divestment, and sanctions; now 

THEREFORE, be it resolved, that BALAW stands in solidarity with the Palestine Trade Unions and endorses their demands; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW officially endorses the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), calls upon UAW Local 2320 (NOLSW) and the UAW International to do the same. In doing so, BALAW proudly joins the ranks of other US labor organizations such as UAW Locals 2322 and 2865 and UE; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW will convene a working group or committee, to be appointed by the Executive Team, which will function to assist with the carrying out of the spirit and letter of this resolution and to provide continuing political education on this topic; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW endorses the Labor Movement Call for Ceasefire that has been signed by UAW International and NOLSW along with dozens of other labor organizations; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW joins ALAA – UAW Local 2325 in calling on UAW International and NOLSW to divest itself from any and all Israel bonds; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW will call on NOLSW, the UAW International, and central labor councils with which it participates to take the steps needed to push our elected officials to:

  • Use all available legal means to pressure Israel to an immediate ceasefire and to stop providing Israel diplomatic cover for its war crimes;
  • Call on Israel to withdraw from and end its assault and siege on Gaza and for a full restoration of water, power, and humanitarian aid to Gaza;
  • End all military aid to Israel;
  • Endorse BDS and divest from Israel bonds;
  • Call for an end to Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine, including lifting the military siege and blockade of Gaza; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW opposes Islamophobia, antisemitism, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian racism in all of their forms; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW opposes the conflation of criticism of the state of Israel or Zionism with antisemitism; and 

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, BALAW will endorse and encourage members to attend actions in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Bay Area; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW encourages NOLSW to pass a resolution similar to this and endorses any such effort; and 

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW encourages other unions to join our calls for peace, endorsement of BDS, divestment of Israel bonds, an end to US military aid to Israel; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW will release a statement standing unequivocally in support of Palestinian liberation; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW stands in solidarity with the Bay Bridge 78 and calls on the SF DA’s Office to drop all charges against them.

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW will endorse efforts before state, regional, and local Bay Area governmental bodies that call for a ceasefire or for action consistent with this resolution; and

THEREFORE, be it further resolved, that BALAW will send letters to Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler and the members of the House of Representatives representing the Bay Area, calling on them to support a ceasefire and end US military aid to Israel.

UAW-represented legal services workers overcome roadblocks, pass resolutions for Palestine (Workers World)

Original online here.

SIGN: A Call for UUP Leadership to Stand against Genocide

Original online here.

Forced to resign over Palestine: An NYC public defender responds (Tempest)

POSTED  ARTICLE

Forced to resign over Palestine

An NYC public defender responds


by Anonymous

A pro-Palestine attorney resigned after she was filmed and doxxed for attending a vigil for Gaza and threatened with termination by her workplace.

On November 7, a New York City public defender was forced out of her position at New York County Defender Services (NYCDS) after the New York Post shared a video of her attending a vigil for victims of Israel’s war on Gaza. In the video, posted by the zionist group StopAntisemitism, the cameraperson accuses her of tearing down posters of Israeli hostages; in fact, the posters had just been put up by a group of counter-protesters, who began heckling and harassing vigil-goers. The posters themselves featured statements “justifying the bombing of Palestinian civilians.” At the time of the vigil, the death toll among Gazans had surpassed ten thousand (as of this writing, the death toll has doubled to nearly twenty thousand).

Based on the misleading video, zionists launched a change.org petition calling for the public defender’s termination from NYCDS. She was harassed over the phone, online, and in three additional New York Post articles about the incident. In response, NYCDS threatened to fire her. She resigned instead.

Below, we share her resignation letter.

This incident is part of a disturbing trend in which New York public defense organizations have cracked down on solidarity with Palestine in and out of the workplace, equating criticism of Israel with antisemitism. Last month, members of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, United Auto Workers Local 2325 (which previously passed a resolution in favor of divestment from Israeli bonds) debated a resolution calling for a ceasefire, an end to Israeli apartheid, and an end to the occupation of Palestine. In response, the heads of several legal service organizations attempted to intimidate union members before they had even voted, issuing internal cease-and-desist letters to staff who discussed Israel/Palestine at work and citing threats by private donors to pull funding if the resolution passed. The Legal Aid Society went further, issuing a public statement that decried the resolution’s language as “antisemitic” and holding a town hall in an effort to influence the vote.

Meanwhile, pro-Israel attorneys at Legal Aid of Nassau County secured a temporary restraining order to stop their own union from voting on the resolution. Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of the union’s attorneys, union members, and supporters who mobilized to the court hearings, a federal court dissolved the restraining order, allowing the vote to proceed, with union members passing the resolution on December 19 in a landslide of 1,067 to 570.

The struggle continues to resist managers’ and zionist funders’ efforts to silence solidarity with Palestine and assert workers’ right to speak out against atrocities committed by the Israeli government with the support of the U.S.


To My Colleagues at New York County Defender Services [NYCDS]:

I regretfully write this letter to announce my resignation from this office. NYCDS was my first home as a public defender, and I have worked here now for three years, alongside all of you, whose dedication I respect tremendously. I am honored to have represented hundreds of clients who have trusted me in their most vulnerable moments. I am lucky to have done this work with you, and I love being a public defender.

Last Friday, I concluded a jury trial at NYCDS, and was so happy that we obtained an acquittal for our client. That night, after we received our verdict, I worked an arraignment shift. On Saturday night, I found myself unexpectedly subjected to a ruthless online doxxing campaign, based on serious misrepresentations about private political activity I engaged in with absolutely no intention of drawing attention to myself or implicating my workplace. And by Monday, after over 24 hours of pressure from NYCDS management, who were uninterested in hearing about my side of events, I submitted my notice of resignation from this job and organization that I love and was prepared to dedicate many more years to. I can’t believe this is where things stand—the last thing I ever wanted to do was to leave this organization. With this resignation I would like to give a fuller picture of what has happened over the last 48 hours, and why I am leaving NYCDS.

Last week, I attended a vigil to mourn the lives of the many thousands of Palestinian civilians that have been killed over this past month. As the vigil was going on and people were reading names of those who have died, a group of agitators arrived and began heckling those of us there mourning. The person who took the video of me was among this group. The group began putting up posters around the vigil. I saw that one of the posters contained handwritten statements justifying the bombing of Palestinian civilians—the same people whose deaths we were there to mourn. I was deeply offended by the statements on the poster, and went over to take that poster down. At that point, the individual from the group approached me and started recording the video, verbally misrepresenting on the video what I was doing and what I was taking issue with.

I reject antisemitism, and I take very seriously the troubling rise in both antisemitism and Islamophobia in recent weeks. I also mourn the tremendous loss of all innocent lives, and would never seek to disparage or devalue any life, including the lives of Israeli civilians.

This past week, the video was published and then promoted online by a group which has been aggressively doxxing New Yorkers in recent weeks, leading to harassment, threats, and calls forthem to lose their jobs. After I learned about the video on Saturday, I contacted NYCDS to alert them. From Sunday to Monday, I faced escalating pressure from NYCDS management to remain silent about context for what had happened to me; and then subsequent pressure to either resign from my job, or be terminated. Management did not want to consider context or details from me about the night of the vigil, and they made clear that they did not want me to share those details with my colleagues. Management spoke to press outlets like the New York Post about what was happening to me, without giving me any notice that these articles were in the works or any opportunity to comment directly to journalists, even through counsel. These articles resulted in a huge onslaught of threats to my personal safety that are continuing as I write this letter.I did not want to be terminated, but if I had to leave, I wanted to leave on my own terms with dignity.

I let NYCDS know that I wanted to find a path forward for both me and the organization that would start with an unpaid leave of absence. However, over a series of calls, where I did not have the opportunity to be represented by counsel, management’s position on my employment at NYCDS went from affirming that I would continue to be able to work at the organization and had been a dedicated employee; to indicating that I needed to resign immediately, or the board would be looking into termination proceedings.

This shift in management’s position on my employment occurred after the New York Post article was published, and after I requested the ability to have a meeting with them where I was represented by legal counsel, rather than have ad hoc conversations. I did not want to be terminated, but if I had to leave, I wanted to leave on my own terms with dignity, so on Monday evening, I chose to resign.

As public defenders, we stand by our clients when their lives are reduced to mischaracterizations, and we give voice to their humanity and their truths. And as public defenders, we stand up for our clients’ constitutional rights when they are under attack. But throughout this process, I felt that my own truth was diminished and unimportant to this organization; and that my First Amendment right to hold personal political views and act pursuant to those views, outside of the workplace, was neither respected nor defended.

I am devastated that I will no longer be working with you all, my amazing colleagues who have mentored me and served as role models for me during such formative years of my career. I am especially grateful to those of you who have reached out to me to offer support during these very difficult last few days. I will not forget your compassion and solidarity. I will carry forward all that I have learned from you at NYCDS and will continue to advocate for a more just world.

The Growing US Labor Movement for Palestine (KCSB News)

Original online here.

KCSB’s Zoha Malik spoke with Clarence Thomas and Michael Letwin, two representatives of Labor for Palestine (LFP), a union-led campaign which endorses the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) picket line against Israeli occupation and apartheid in Palestine, to learn more about anti-war organizing in wake of the increasingly deadly War on Gaza. This interview was conducted on November 13, 2023.

The music used in this story is Insatiable Toad by Blue Dot Sessions.

WW 12-21-23 Labor For Palestine Mass Rally & March In Oakland (Work Week Radio)

Original online here.

WorkWek covers the rally of over 1,000 trade unionists and workers who marched in Oakland against the US funded war Israel war on the people of Gaza. This was the largest labor demonstration for Palestinian workers in the United States and many unions joined the rally from SEIU 1021, UAW 2865, ILWU Local 10 and IFPTE Local 21.
After the rally the participants marched through the streets of Oakland.
Production of WorkWeek
@workweek-radio

Labor For Palestine Trade Unionists Oppose Israel’s Attack On Gaza

UAW Labor for Palestine Speech in NYC (Sophia Gurulé, UAW 2325)

(Photo credit)

Sophia Gurulé on IG video:

UAW Labor for Palestine urges labor bodies to fully embrace the Urgent Call from Palestinian Trade Unions to End all Complicity and Stop Arming Israel (@workersinpalestine). We believe acting in real union solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian liberation and return requires centering Palestinian trade union demands. We also uplift the demands of the @palestinianyouthmovement to move beyond ceasefire.

As our @uaw.union leadership honors and respects, the members are the highest authority in our union. We urge other rank and file members: do not underestimate your power to change the course of history. Do not underestimate your power to create real justice and peace for Palestine in our lifetime. We as rank and file workers must act. This is our moment — rise to it.

Permanent ceasefire now. End the occupation now. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

@criticalresistance@laborforpalestine
@uawlaborforpalestine