SEIU Members, Staff, and Community Stand for Palestine at the 2024 SEIU International Convention (Purple Up 4 Palestine)

Original online here.


May 23, 2024



Rank-and-file and staff organized to bring a pro-Palestine resolution forward and protested a prominent genocidaire speaker in attendance

PHILADELPHIA, PA – On Monday, May 20, 2024, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), comprised of service workers from across the nation, assembled at the 2024 SEIU International Convention to congregate, debate, and vote on proposed convention resolutions. 

The Resolutions Committee reviews proposed resolutions on issues other than Constitutional Amendments and makes recommendations, which ultimately yields three forms of resolutions: those proposed from Locals, those recommended by the Resolutions Committee, and those that become International Executive Board (IEB) approved.

Convention delegates from each Local, who arrived early, had the opportunity to represent the interests of their members regarding the proposed resolutions at committee meetings held days before the convention itself. Resolution #201 was a strong and intentionally worded, humanizing pro-Palestine resolution that also included member protections against management intimidation and retaliation, allowing for members to freely express themselves and honoring their free-speech rights. Rank-and-file members of SEIU Local 1021 crafted and passed this resolution first within their Local. It contained accurate information, and also included specific and fundamental actions within the “BE IT RESOLVED” section, that would galvanize SEIU in supporting Palestinian Liberation. Resolution #106, another resolution of topic and approved by the IEB, was riddled with inaccuracies and misinformation that has already been publicly debunked, contradictory statements, and maintained a tepid position in relation to Palestinian Liberation. On the first day of the convention, the Resolutions Committee presented Resolution #108, a combination of language from Resolution #106 and Resolution #201.This was not a favorable decision in the eyes of pro-Palestine member activists.

Delegates lined up at the debate mics to state their opposition to the newly created Resolution #108, while advocating for Resolution #201. Delegates argued that Resolution #108 was a “watered down version of #201, that confused the oppressor with the oppressed and the colonizer with the colonized.” Other delegates advocated for Resolution #201 and condemned the committee’s actions of taking liberty to arbitrarily slice and dice language, despite many delegates testifying support for #201 in its original form, at pre-convention resolution meetings held the day before. Several unjust actions took place during the delegates speaking time, such as marshals rearranging the delegates organic line order and instead placing opposing speakers at the front of the line to dilute the evident support for Resolution #201. After several delegates spoke, the question was called and a subjective voice vote determined that Resolution #108 would be adopted on the convention floor. Many delegates found the vote questionable, since the volume of response was different depending on where in the auditorium you were sitting. Many also expressed being denied the option to request a roll call vote that is merited for a resolution that yielded such debate. It’s still unclear if an appeal or motion to reconsider would’ve been allowed, as rules are up for interpretation and the convention schedule doesn’t allow for such considerations.

The next day security was tightened; Secret Service agents were present in and around the convention center, closing off entry to everyone by a certain time, leaving some delegates locked out of the building. Vice President Kamala Harris took the stage and front seat attendees showed blind, unwavering cheers of support. About ten minutes into the Vice President’s speech, a substantial group of around 50 SEIU member delegates, guests, and staff, disrupted and protested her attendance by standing up and chanting “Free Palestine!” Harris paused and stumbled on her words for a moment, while others in attendance broke out into “Four more years!” Protesters walked from all areas of the room to exit the building in protest of her complicity in the genocide. As they marched, they chanted “Harris, Harris you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” and sang “Which side are you on?,” while holding handmade signs high for all to see. Harris bulldozed through her teleprompter speech, while chants continued for the entirety of her fifteen minute speech. After the Vice President walked off the stage, members left singing “Solidarity Forever” and proceeded to join a protest rally outside.

SEIU’s attempt to suppress this protest is antithetical to the values of the union. Antagonistic SEIU delegates linked arms to surround and block protesting members with a perimeter chain of bodies to block protesting members. The human barricade, initially set about a foot away from protesting members, suddenly became mere centimeters, as a member of Local 888 pushed up against two protesting members, forcing them back. There were Sergeant at Arms yelling at people to stop recording the protest while swatting at phones, and purposefully obscuring videos and photos of the demonstration by holding up SEIU’s “THIS UNION” convention signs. The very organization that teaches members to take stands against injustice did not want this injustice to be documented.

Outside, the Purple Up 4 Palestine protest rally was led by a Bay Area member activist from SEIU Local 1021, who flew across the nation to Philadelphia to emcee the program, which included chants and informing passerbys of the motive for Purple Up 4 Palestine’s protest rally. Among the rally program were impassioned speakers from pro-Palestine Philadelphia organizations and SEIU rank and file caucuses: Purple Up 4 Palestine, 1021 Members for Palestine, SEIU members and Shop Stewards, who are also part of Jews Against White Supremacy (JAWS) and Healthcare Workers for Palestine, Starbucks Workers United, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Committee of Interns & Residents (CIR), and AFSCME members with Green for Falasteen, who all spoke in labor solidarity against genocide and for a liberated Palestine. A satirical “Genocide Joe” was also present, showing off his record of war crimes, undermining worker strikes and increasing houselessness. The full program was in direct response to Vice President Harris’ anticipated visit to convey the message that SEIU members don’t embrace genocidaires at their union convention.

As the 2024 SEIU International Convention comes to a close, SEIU member activists declare that union bureaucracy will not stop the rank-and-file! SEIU members are more united than ever, and are steadfast in continuing the fight to organize for a liberated Palestine, with a ripple effect that would help to pave the way for a liberated Sudan, Puerto Rico, Hawai’i, Congo, and Cuba.

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