Category Archives: San Francisco Labor Council

Are US labor unions finally speaking out on Palestine? (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Are US labor unions finally speaking out on Palestine?

Trade union involvement is seen as key to the success of the international movement in support of Palestinian rights. Ryan Rodrick BeilerActiveStills

The trade union leadership in the US has generally been reluctant to defend Palestinian rights. Sometimes, it has been openly hostile to the Palestine solidarity movement.

Soon after Richard Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009, he denounced the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

That call has been endorsed by organizations representing Palestinian workers with direct experience of occupation and apartheid. That does not seem to have convinced the AFL-CIO – the largest federation of trade unions in the US – that it should side with Palestinian workers.

The AFL-CIO has a long history of supporting the Histradut, an Israeli union that played a prominent role in the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of Palestinians.

Moreover, the AFL-CIO has been a major buyer of Israel bonds: by some estimates, such investments are worth $5 billion.

A decision taken by the San Francisco chapter of the AFL-CIO earlier this month is among a series of small breakthroughs for Palestine solidarity in the US labor movement.

The San Francisco Labor Council, as the chapter is known, has taken a strong position against bullying by pro-Israel and Islamophobic groups.

Earlier this month, the council approved a resolution that declares full support for students and teachers at San Francisco State University (SFSU) who have suffered abuse over their campaigning on Palestine.

The resolution focuses on an incident from last year, when posters appeared on the university’s campus, alleging one professor was a “collaborator with terrorists.” The professor in question was Rabab Abdulhadi.

The posters – some of which also targeted students who had been vocal on Palestine – have been claimed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Canary Mission. Those groups promote anti-Muslim bigotry and slander critics of Israel.

Abdulhadi welcomed the resolution as a step towards building a stronger relationship between the Palestine solidarity movement and US trade unions.

“Glacial movement”

“The US labor movement has been one of the hardest nuts to crack in terms of Palestine,” she told The Electronic Intifada.

Her husband, Jaime Veve, is a veteran labor organizer, who has been active on Palestine for several decades.

Veve, who now represents the group Labor for Palestine, said that the AFL-CIO has “by and large tried to avoid the issue of Palestine and taken an official position against BDS.”

Yet he added there had been “glacial movement” by labor unions towards supporting the Palestinian struggle for justice and equality.

In 2014, UAW Local 2865 – which represents graduate student workers at the University of California – became the first labor union in the US to endorse the BDS movement.

In 2015, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America – known as UE – voted to back BDS, becoming the second. That same year, the Connecticut branch of the AFL-CIO voted to back key elements of BDS.

“Defend free speech”

Veve regards US labor unions as key to the success of BDS activism.

“If labor gets involved and begins to act, it has the potential to withdraw its investments in Israeli bonds,” he said.

The San Francisco Labor Council called for “full action” to be taken against the Horowitz Freedom Center and Canary Mission.

Ann Robertson, a philosophy lecturer at SFSU and delegate to the council, explained that the term “full action” was intended to leave all options open, including litigation.

Robertson argued that the response from Les Wong, the SFSU chancellor, to the posters had been “too vague.”

Wong had blamed an “an outside extremist group” for the posters and pledged not to tolerate “bullying behavior.”

Yet his statement did not defend any of the teachers or students targeted by name.

“He needs to clear the names of those smeared,” Robertson said, “and specifically defend the free speech rights of Palestinian students because they are the ones under attack.”



Resolution in Defense of Prof. Abdulhadi and Students

Whereas a number of fliers were posted on the San Francisco State University campus on or around October 15, 2016; and

Whereas these posters targeted a faculty member of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies, of Arab and Muslim descent, smearing her by stating that she is a “collaborator with terrorists” and anti-Semitic (“#jewhatred”); and

Whereas other posters targeted students who were organizing a forum on Palestine and by implication suggested they were collaborating with terrorists and anti-Semitic; and

Whereas the posters are claimed by both the Canary Mission and the Horowitz Freedom Center; and

Whereas the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State has released a statement in which it “condemns’s threats against one of our professorial colleagues, its reliance on an anonymous website that has targeted several of our undergraduate students, and its vandalism of our campus;” and

Whereas the targets of these posters have expressed fears for their physical safety;

Whereas leading members of the California Faculty Assoc. at SFSU have strongly condemned the posters and have called on “the university to take definitive legal action to stop these slanderous, libelous attacks and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all who live, work, and learn at SFSU;”

Therefore Be It Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council call on San Francisco State President Wong to unambiguously defend the academic freedom and the intellectual reputation of Prof. Abdulhadi; and

Be It Further Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council call on President Wong to publicly and unambiguously defend the academic freedom and the right of free speech of Palestinian students, faculty and staff; and

Be It Further Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council call on President Wong to publicly and unambiguously condemn all forms of hate speech, including anti-Arab racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and to take all the necessary actions to stop hate speech on campus; and

Be it Further Resolved that we call on Chancellor White to take full action against the authors of the fliers; and

Be It Finally Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council send this resolution to President Wong at San Francisco State University and Chancellor White of the CSU.


Adopted by the California Faculty Association-SFSU Executive Board on December 13, 2016

Resolution on Amer Jubran (San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO)

Resolution on Amer Jubran adopted by the Executive Board of the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) on November 5, 2003

[Note: The following resolution was adopted Wednesday, November 5th by the Executive Board of the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO. It has been forwarded to the Amer Jubran Defense Committee in Boston and to the INS/BICE officials in charge of this case.]

Resolution from the San Francisco Labor Council

WHEREAS, Mr. Amer Jubran, a legal Palestinian resident of the United States, who is a noted human rights activist, was arrested on November 4, 2002 after he helped lead a march for Palestinian rights in Boston, and was held in detention for 17 days by the FBI and Immigration & Naturalization Service in what must be considered a politically motivated attack; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Jubran was not charged with any immigration infraction to warrant detention, has commited no crime, and has done nothing more than exercise the rights to free speech and free assembly guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Jubran was threatened with indefinite detention if he refused to waive his right to a lawyer and refused to talked about his political activity during an attempted FBI interrogation; and

WHEREAS, the FBI visited Mr. Jubran’s former wife and sister-in-law and tried to intimidate them into not testifying for Jubran in advance of the first round of his hearing in immigration court, falsely claiming to link him to illegal acts including 9/11; and

WHEREAS, the federal government continues to attempt to deport Mr. Jubran and intends to try him as a test case under the Patriot Act for his political activity; and

WHEREAS, the arrest, detention, and attempted deportation of Mr. Jubran falls clearly in the realm of the attacks on the rights of all of us to engage in free speech and legal activism, and in the targeting of immigrants — particularly Arabs & South Asians — since September 11, 2001, and is at the heart of the Bush Administration’s continued campaign to
substitute the Patriot Act for the US Constitution;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the San Francisco Labor Council demands that the deportation proceedings against Amer Jubran be dropped immediately, and once again reaffirms for this Labor Council that the Patriot Act must be repealed.

Executive Committee
San Francisco Labor Council
Nov. 5, 2003

SF Labor Council Resolution In Defense of Sami Al-Arian

24 February 2003

In Defense Of The Democratic Rights Of Professor Sami Al-Arian

Whereas, there has been a concerted political effort to fire Palestinian American Professor Sami Al-Arian from the University of South Florida and,

Whereas, the union, the United Professors Of Florida which is affiliated to the National Education Association has defended their member Professor Sami Al-Arian’s democratic rights and,

Whereas, using the Patriot Act and other recently passed legislation, the US government has sought to eliminate the democratic rights of Professor Sami Al-Arian and,

Whereas, Professor has been a supporter of democratic rights not only in the Middle East but for democratic rights for people in the US and around the world and,

Whereas, the US government is seeking to silence political dissidents using the Patriot Act and other repressive legislation and,

Whereas, the use of these laws threatens the rights of all working people and all Americans,

Therefore be it resolved this body protests the indictment of Professor Sami Al-Arian and we call not only for the removal of this indictment but for opposition to the Patriot Act and other repressive legislation and we will forward this to the United Professors of Florida as well as Professor Sami Al-Arian and,

Finally, we call on all other labor and community organizations to protest the violation of Professor Sami Al-Arian’s rights, for this resolution to be sent to all affiliated bodies and to all our political representatives in the Congress and US Senate and for an end to this harassment and profiling of Arab Americans and Muslims and those who are critical of the policies of Israel.

For a chronology and detailed overview of this case, visit (MB)

The Middle East, Palestinian Workers, War & The AFL-CIO (Bay Area Workers Democracy Forum/Discussion)

Bay Area Workers Democracy Forum/Discussion
The Middle East, Palestinian Workers, War & The AFL-CIO

**Mary Ann Ring, UCSF  ASCME 3299, Delegate SF Labor Council
**Charles Minster, LIUA 1144, Delegate SF Labor Council
**Jack Heyman, BA ILWU Local 10, Delegate Alameda Labor Council* (Invited)
**Faisal Tbeilen, Member UESF-AFT*

As a result of the murderous attack on Palestinian workers and the people of Palestine, the San Francisco Labor Council has passed a resolution protesting the illegal, immoral war and supporting an end to the military arming of Israel. We will discuss how this came about.

This important statement however, is virtually alone among the US trade union movement. John Sweeney and the national AFL-CIO have embraced Bush’s “War On Terror”, along with supporting the Patriot Act which harms our democratic right and the massive increases of military spending. At the same
time the leadership of the Teamsters and the Carpenters are running as fast as they can to get on Bush’s bandwagon.

We will discuss why it is important that US workers support the struggle of Palestinian workers and challenging what has been the historic role of the AFL-CIO in relationship to war, the rights of the Palestinians and Israel.

$5.00 Donation Requested/ No one turned away from a lack of funds
*For Information Only

Sunday April 21, 2002 3:00PM
Fellowship Of Humanity Hall   390 27th St./Broadway Oakland

Sponsored by the Bay Area Workers Democracy Network
P.O.Box 40458 San Francisco, CA 94140

Middle East War Roils San Francisco Labor Council (Labournet)


Middle East War Roils San Francisco Labor Council

Report by Bob Mattingly
LABOR TUESDAY! – April 16, 2002
Published here: 17/04/02

On March 11, the San Francisco Labor Council narrowly adopted a resolution condemning the Israeli “bombing of civilian and political targets most specifically, but not limited to, the Palestine trade union offices in Nablus, Palestine and remind the U. S. Government that this is both a moral and legal crime…” The resolution also called upon Israeli and Palestinian labor federations “to launch joint action against both sides’ attacks on innocents and civilians and work together to gain control over this horrible situation…”

The labor council represents several hundred local unions with a total of some 75,000 members. The council has taken many controversial positions over the years, including support for Mumia Abu-Jamal. More recently, the council endorsed the National Marches to protest War, Racism and Poverty, scheduled for April 20 in Washington, D. C. and San Francisco. But just a month after the council adopted the resolution that also stated that “the U. S. proves to be the main culprit in this struggle by supplying the Israeli State billions of dollars in arms to suppress the Palestinian struggle for Statehood and ancestral lands” the labor body reversed itself and rescinded the resolution.

Perhaps the March 11 resolution might have been rescinded, even if outside pressures had not been applied to the council. We say that because it barely passed in the first place, and because the council’s executive committee, its central leadership body, seemingly opposed the resolution from the get-go. So chances are the leadership would have attempted to rescind the resolution, if they figured they could muster the necessary two-thirds majority required to rescind a motion by the council.

But the council, or more correctly, the council’s leadership, came under heavy pressure to overturn the March 11 action. That’s not to say that all the pressure that was brought to bear has been made public. It may well be that what is publicly known is no more than the tip of the iceberg. If so, that would be no surprise

What we do know is that the San Francisco Zionist establishment which includes prominent Democratic Party contributors and politicians were terribly upset that the council resolution implicitly called for the end of the 35 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine and pointedly condemned the use of U. S. supplied “Israeli F-16 jets that continue to bomb civilian and Palestinian political targets,” in defiance of the U. S. ‘s un-enforced legal restrictions.

The San Francisco Examiner carried a column by Andrew Heinze, professor of history and director of the Swig Judaic Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. Heinze lambasted the labor council for adopting what he called “one-sided and ill-informed declarations that add nothing but more fuel to the fire…” Heinze seemingly believes that Israeli and Palestinian warfare is rooted in a long-standing anti-Semitic pan-Arab “world view,” utterly opposed to a “Jewish State.” In other words, the professor implicitly defends the decades-long occupation and settlement of pre-1967 Palestine as strictly a matter of morally justifiable self-defense. Heinze called the resolution’s opposition to the Israeli occupation “arbitrary, divisive and unjust.” Heinze says that Israel “should be judged by the same standards we use to judge any nation,” but fails to apply the standards to Israel that have judged and condemned the domination by powerful nations of weak nations, especially during the past two centuries.

The professor’s attack on the labor council’s short-lived resolution revealed little more than his loyalties and insensitivities. Another attack, however, disclosed the close ties between the labor council’s leadership and the region’s organized Zionists. That’s not to say that those relationships were a secret. But they would not have received such notice except for the storm the resolution precipitated. The executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Rabbi Doug Kahn, said the Jewish community had a “close and longstanding relationship with the labor movement in San Francisco, and, specifically, the labor council leadership…,”reported the Northern California Jewish Bulletin on March 28. The same bulletin account quoted a colleague of Rabbi Kahn as saying that, “This is not the traditional relationship of labor in San Francisco or the nation to Jews and Israel. The AFL-CIO has been one of the strongest friends of Israel among organized communities in the country.”

“In the weeks to come,” Rabbi Kahn told the Jewish Bulletin, “we will be engaged in extensive discussions with the leaders of the labor council to see what steps we can take to undo [the resolution].” We can’t report on those discussions nor say with certainty that they even if they took place. However, we think it highly probable that the Zionists and their supporters in the Democratic Party who routinely are touted as “friends of labor” did pressure the labor council leadership to withdraw the council’s statement condemning the apparently endless occupation of Palestinian territory and the Israeli domination of the Palestinian inhabitants.

Of course the labor council has the right to adopt any resolution it chooses, and if it chooses to rescind a resolution, that also is its right. But what is wrong is that in the end, the pressures of the Zionists and their supporters outweighed the cries of the wounded and dying Palestinians whose blood was shed upon the land that bore them.

In the wake of the council’s rescinding the Israeli/Palestine resolution, it was announced that the labor council plans to form a committee and write a “broader” resolution. Also these statements were made:

“I think we have a responsibility to make sure we look at the big picture, from all points of view.” (Walter Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, S. F, Labor Council.)

“It was frightening to sit there and listen to so much anti-Zionist rhetoric and hatred of Israel with no understanding of what led up to this.” (Karen Lipney, Assistant Executive Director, American Federation of Television and Radio Artist and Screen Actors Guild.)

“When the Democratic Party and big business bosses bark, their labor lieutenants snap to. And that’s what happened on this issue.” (Charles Minister, author of the resolution, Local 1141 Delegate.)

“The political leader of the trade union bureaucracy is not Walter Johnson. It is not any official in the San Francisco trade unions. They are all loyal Democrats. They look to Mayor Willie Brown and State Senator John Burton for day-to-day leadership guidance, but their leader is Walter Shorenstein, a ‘fat cat’ liberal Democrat/Zionist. Senator Diane Feinstein is one of his creations. Shorenstein is one of the wealthiest people in San Francisco, owing a good section of the financial district buildings in the city. When Shorenstein says, ‘jump’- the trade union bureaucrats ask, ‘How high?’” (Roland Sheppard, retired Painters Union official and delegate to the labor council.)