Category Archives: UAW

“Standing in Solidarity with Palestinian Civil Society and Joining the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement Resolution” (GEO/UAW2322)

cropped-FINAL-GEO-LOGO-SMALL“Standing in Solidarity with Palestinian Civil Society and Joining the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement Resolution”

Click on the link below to read the full text of the resolution that has been presented by the Palestine Solidarity Caucus and placed on the agenda by the Steering Committee. A referendum vote on this resolution will be held during the upcoming elections.

BDS Movement Resolution

Resolution: Standing in Solidarity with Palestinian civil society and joining the Boycott, Divestment and Santions (BDS) Movement.

Should GEO/UAW2322 and its members join the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, until such time as Israel has complied with international law and respected the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and all Palestinian refugees and exiles?

BDS should be maintained until Israel fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation of the Palestinian territories and dismantling the Wall;

2. Ending its preferential treatment of Jews vis­a­vis Palestinians in the land under its control;

3. Promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

This renews and furthers the commitment of GEO, whose membership overwhelmingly voted, in 2003, for divestment from the Israeli occupation.

GEO/UAW2322 should join the movement in the following ways:

Renewing and furthering the commitment displayed by GEO members in 2003

1) GEO/UAW2322 should call on the University of Massachusetts (UMass) and the UAW International to divest their investments, including pension funds, from Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in severe and ongoing human rights violations as part of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people. GEO/UAW2322 should also call on UMass and the UAW International to decline to conduct business with said companies.

2) GEO/UAW2322 should join other labor, academic and cultural organizations in calling on the government of the United States of America to end military aid to Israel.

3) GEO/UAW2322 should call on affiliated bodies such as UAW Local 2322, the Coalition of Graduate Employee Organizations, The UAW international, Jobs with Justice, Massachusetts AFL­CIO to join the BDS movement.

____Yes ____No

In carrying out the activities set forth above and in acting on this proposal, we affirm that this proposal should not be interpreted or applied to seek to influence the hiring or other employment decisions of the University or individual academics or GEO/UAW2322 members; nor will it in any way limit or affect the representative functions of the Union including but not limited to which grievances or contract demands we pursue. Furthermore, this resolution does not seek to discourage association with individual Israeli scholars. GEO/UAW2322 is strictly committed to opposing all forms of discrimination including discrimination based on race, religion, national origin or ethnicity, and we affirm our strong commitment to the principles of academic freedom for all in the UMass community.

Afrikan Black Coalition Condemns the UC Regents Explicit Conflation of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

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Dear University of California Regents:

The University of California Regents will discuss the newest draft of the Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, released on Monday, March 14th, 2016. As a Black youth organization with constituents in the University of California system, the Afrikan Black Coalition supports Principles Against Intolerance that seek to protect students from hate speech and harm. However the “Contextual Statement” and the “Working Group Observations” are particularly concerning.

The regental working group’s contextual statement reveals a continued attempt to silence criticism of the Israeli government and stifle Palestine solidarity activism by labeling it as anti-Semitism. We note that there have been attempts to get the UC Regents to adopt the controversial State Department Definition of Anti-Semitism, and enforce it with penalties including suspension or expulsion. This definition says any demonization, delegitimization, or double standard applied to the state of Israel is anti-Semitism. These terms are vague, and would themselves apply a double-standard to Israel, as no other country enjoys similar standards or special protections from criticism. Criticism of the Iranian or Saudi Arabian governments, for instance, is not necessarily Islamophobic. The University Regents thankfully did not adopt the State Department Definition, but the context of the Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance seems to align with the same political agenda; an issue of grave concern for all those who are concerned with justice and fairness.

The Afrikan Black Coalition is in solidarity with Students for Justice in Palestine, United Auto Workers Local 2865, (UAW2865), Jewish Voice for Peace and hundreds of UC faculty in condemning the explicit conflation of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism that is included in the introduction to the proposed statement. Section C of the proposed Principles Against Intolerance states that “The Regents call on University leaders actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and wherever they emerge within the University community.” We agree with this statement. As Black students who contend with hostile and anti-Black campus climate on a daily basis, we understand very clearly the need to eliminate bigotry from the UC system.  However, by including anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism in their contextual statement, the working group sets a dangerous precedent. Zionism is a political movement and ideology that must be subject to vigorous assessment and criticism just like all political movements and ideologies. We reject in the strongest terms possible the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Such conflation can only arise from blatant historical ignorance about the origins of Zionism as a political ideology and movement.  We recognize the specificity of calling out anti-Zionism as a craven attempt to chill constitutionally-protected speech and legitimate human rights activism.Zionism is a controversial nationalist political ideology that calls for the creation of an explicitly Jewish homeland in the biblical land of Israel. It is not the same as Judaism, which is the religion of the Jewish people. Just as Zionism and Judaism aren’t the same, neither are anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

The improper conflation of these concepts is being pushed by off-campus political advocacy organizations in order to stifle criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the unjust treatment of non-Jewish Israeli citizens and Palestinian refugees in the diaspora. It is clear that the state of Israel has been engaged in several atrocities against the Palestinians in violation of international law.  These activities are documented by the United Nations and should always be subject to vigorous criticism just like any other nation. To conflate all criticisms of the state of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic is false and dangerous. To be clear, anti-Semitic rhetoric or action is not the same as or equivalent to pro-Palestine rhetoric or action. This sentiment is echoed and elaborated upon in a letter,signed by well over 200 UC faculty members, many of whom are themselves Jewish.

In conversations with representatives from UAW2865, the UC Student Workers’ union, we have learned more about the Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance. An officer with the union spoke to UCOP Deputy General Counsel Julia Friedlander last Friday, at which point she said that there were “conflicting opinions” among University lawyers about whether the introduction to the statement was enforceable. The Regents have had many months to draft and evaluate this statement. The Regents still intend to vote in two days, even though their own lawyer admits they don’t know how this statement will be applied.

Additionally, for a motion to address what constitutes Principles of Intolerance, the process has not been inclusive. A quick glance at the Statement of Principles Against Intolerance shows that the vast majority of the document focuses on bigotry facing Jewish students, with brief mention of the serious concerns of Black, Muslim, Latin@, and LGBTQ students. Further, other groups like students with disabilities are not explicitly mentioned in their opening statement, only in Section B of the principles. This clear rhetorical focus on the needs of Jewish students over other identity groups doesn’t reflect actual data on the campus climate concerns expressed by various student communities. The Regents would do well to remember that Black students face the highest levels of intolerance and disrespect as well as a hostile campus climate more than any other group on the University of California campuses, as verified by the UC’s own campus climate surveys several times.

The experts chosen by the working group responsible for drafting this statement are more than questionable, with no women, Muslims, or experts on Palestine consulted. Experts on anti-blackness, LGBTQ hatred, or other forms of identity-based hatred were not interviewed either. Four “experts” were consulted by the working group drafting the statement, with two of them being open pro-Israel partisans. A third “expert” was Eugene Volokh, a conservative lawyer who was one of the main architects of Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action in California. For those who do not know, Prop 209 decimated the numbers of Black and Latin@ students on UC campuses, and none have recovered since. The inclusion of Volokh is a slap in the face to Black and Latin@ UC students and demonstrates that the Regents do not care about addressing structural racism plaguing the UC system. Volokh’s inclusion in this process is the kind of historic blunder that can only be explained as calculated cruelty towards and blatant disregard of Black students due to the role he played in systematically excluding Black students from the University of California. We find it unjustifiable that the UC regents made a conscious choice to include such a person to draft a statement of intolerance, something Black students endure the most of; partially as a result of our severe underrepresentation in the UC system. The irony is too thick.

According to the 2014 Campus Climate Survey which garnered feedback from over 100,000 community members from across the UC system, Jewish students reported higher levels of comfort in classrooms and departments than students who identified with any other religious group. Muslim and Christian students reported significantly lower levels of comfort (pg. 58-59). According to the same survey, underrepresented minority students, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities reported the highest levels of discomfort with campus climate. This is not to argue that Jewish students don’t face discrimination, nor to play oppression olympics. One only needs to look at the vicious rhetoric of Trump supporters to know that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are alive and well, alongside other forms of identity-based hatred that must be condemned. That said, it is clear that other groups face just as much if not more discrimination within the UC system, but one would have no idea this was the case from reading the statement as currently written.

This issue does not just affect the University of California system. What the UC does often set a precedent for other universities, and this is no different. The Afrikan Black Coalition does not support the Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance so long as it conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism or Palestine solidarity activism. We oppose in the strongest terms possible the conflations of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

In Solidarity & Struggle,

The Afrikan Black Coalition

Response to Report of the UC Regents’ Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance (UAW 2865)

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View in PDF format: UAW2865RegentsIntolerance031816

Response to Report of the UC Regents’ Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance (UAW 2865)

UAW LOCAL 2865
2030 Addison Street, Suite 640A
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: 510-549-3863 Fax: 510-549-2514
uaw2865@uaw2865.org
www.uaw2865.org

March 18th, 2016

To: Janet Napolitano, University of California President
The University of California Board of Regents
Professor Kathleen Montgomery, Chair UC Committee on Academic Freedom
Professor Dan Hare, Chair, University-wide Academic Senate
Anne L. Shaw, Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents

The UAW 2865 Joint Council strongly opposes the Report of the UC Regents’ Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance. While the actual text of the “Principles Against Intolerance” policy (found here[1], beginning on page 8) is relatively uncontroversial, the introductory report reads “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California,” thus directly conflating anti-Semitism (anti-Jewish bigotry) with anti-Zionism (a political ideology embraced by many, including large numbers of Jews) and labeling both as equivalently intolerant positions. While anti-Semitism is indisputably a form of discrimination, one which our union staunchly and vocally opposes, equating it with anti-Zionism is incredibly dangerous. It creates a clear chilling effect on free speech that could affect not only campus political activity, but the scholarship of many graduate students and faculty.

In addition, the introductory report makes it seem that anti-Semitism is the primary form of bigotry occurring on UC campuses, even as their own campus climate survey[2] shows Jewish students reporting the highest levels of comfort with campus climate (pg. 58-59). Only a few sentences in the Report are dedicated to all other groups facing discrimination, many of whom reported much higher levels of discomfort with campus climate in that same survey. Though it is paramount for all forms of bigotry and intolerance to be opposed, the Regent’s Report demonstrates a clear lack of awareness of the issues faced by many communities on campus.

Disturbingly, Julia Friedlander, Deputy General Counsel for the University of California Office of the President, has told the union that even the University’s lawyers have “conflicting opinions” as to whether the introduction is enforceable. The UC Regents will vote on whether to adopt this statement in less than five days, and they don’t even know what the statement means.

For these reasons, the UAW 2865 Joint Council expresses our unwavering opposition to the Working Group Report on Principles Against Intolerance as currently written and call on the Regents to start a new, transparent, and inclusive process[3]. Short of that, we call on the Regents to amend the document, removing the problematic introduction that, in addition to improperly conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, minimizes or ignores intolerance experienced by many campus communities.

Sincerely,

The UAW Local 2865 Joint Council

1 http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/mar16/e1.pdf
2 http://campusclimate.ucop.edu/_common/files/pdf-climate/ucsystem-full-report.pdf
3 https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/uc-deserves-experts-on-intolerance/

UAW Local 2865 Call to Action [“Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.”]

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View in PDF format: UAW2865RegentsCalltoAction031816

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UAW LOCAL 2865
2030 Addison Street, Suite 640A
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: 510-549-3863 Fax: 510-549-2514
uaw2865@uaw2865.org
www.uaw2865.org

March 18th, 2016

UAW LOCAL 2865 CALL TO ACTION

This Wednesday, March 23rd, the UC Regents are set to vote on the latest draft of the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.” While the actual text of the Principles is relatively uncontroversial, it is preceded by a 7 page Report that conflates anti-Semitism (bigotry against Jews) with anti-Zionism (a political ideology embraced by many, including large numbers of Jews). As expressed in a letter circulated by Jewish Voice for Peace and signed by over 250 UC faculty members, this conflation will constitute a severe chilling effect on free speech that could negatively affect not only campus activism, but vital lines of scholarly research.

Furthermore, the introductory report makes it seem that anti-Semitism is the primary form of bigotry occurring on UC campuses, even as their own campus climate survey shows Jewish students reporting the highest levels of comfort with campus climate (pg. 58-59). Only a few sentences in the Report are dedicated to all other groups facing discrimination, many of whom reported much higher levels of discomfort with campus climate. While it is paramount for all forms of bigotry and intolerance to be opposed, the Regent’s Report demonstrates a clear lack of awareness of the issues faced by many communities on campus. Therefore, the ideal outcome would be for the Regents to discard the problematic introductory Report from the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.” Barring this, we demand that the statement be rejected in its entirety and a new, transparent, and inclusive process be initiated.

What you can do:

There are many ways for UAW 2865 members to voice their concerns about this issue to the UC Regents. We highly encourage individuals to attend the upcoming Regents meeting at University of California, San Francisco (1675 Owens St.) on Wednesday, March 23rd to voice their criticisms during public comment at 8:30 am. Sign up to speak at public comment by calling (510) 987-9220 as soon as possible. If you don’t want to speak, still sign up because you can cede your time to others. Even if you are unable to sign up, please still attend the meeting to show your support for other speakers.

Furthermore, members are encouraged to send in their concerns to the UC Regents via email to: regentsoffice@ucop.edu.

In addition, we highly encourage members to submit op-eds opposing the conflation of antiSemitism and anti-Zionism to campus and local media outlets.

We urge our members to take as many of these actions as possible and call on the Regents not to conflate political critique with bigotry, and drop the introductory Report from the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.”

In solidarity, UAW 2865 Joint Council

Building BDS and the union at NYU (Socialist Worker)

Building BDS and the union at NYU

 


Sean Larson
argues that a solidarity campaign of NYU grad student workers with Palestine is important both for academic freedom and building a stronger union.

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Members of GSOC-UAW Local 2110 at a general assembly meeting

NEXT MONTH, graduate student workers at New York University (NYU) will vote on whether their union, GSOC-UAW 2110, will endorse the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in solidarity with Palestine.

The referendum calls on both NYU and the United Auto Workers (UAW) to divest from Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in violating Palestinian human and civil rights until Israel complies with international law. It further calls on NYU to close its study abroad program at Tel Aviv University. Graduate workers will also have the option to make a voluntary and non-binding commitment to adhere to the academic boycott of Israeli government and academic institutions.

If the resolution passes, GSOC would be among the first labor unions in the U.S. to come out for BDS through a referendum of the membership. The upcoming vote at NYU follows the success of a similar resolution passed by the graduate workers of UAW Local 2865 in the University of California system at the end of 2014.

The referendum in California inspired GSOC activists, but it also provoked several members of GSOC’s larger amalgamated Local 2110 to send a letter protesting BDS to UAW President Dennis Williams. One year after BDS passed in Local 2865, the UAW International Executive Board showed its business-unionist colors by nullifying the open and democratic vote of its members on the grounds that BDS interferes with the “flow of commerce.”

But as a Labor for Palestine open letter points out, BDS is entirely consistent with past UAW support for boycotts organized by the civil rights movement, United Farm Workers and South African anti-apartheid movement. Graduate student workers at NYU are driving forward that legacy of a labor movement built on solidarity.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

AFTER A decade without a union, NYU graduate student workers finally won a contractone year ago after a huge mobilization, a strike authorization vote and a long night of open, collective bargaining. The contract was a big victory for all the graduate workers at NYU, winning wage gains, free basic dental care, health care and child care funds, and doubling the hourly wages of workers at the Tandon School of Engineering, among other things.

Shortly after this contract was won, some members of the union’s leading reform caucus,Academic Workers for a Democratic Union, began seeking ways to continue the mobilization of the rank-and-file in the union. After learning of the surge in membership involvement in Local 2865 over the BDS referendum, a working group was founded over the summer of 2015 with the help of graduate union members in Students for Justice in Palestine.

The goals of this group, later named the GSOC for BDS Caucus, were to educate the union membership on the injustices faced by Palestinians, but also to motivate union members to politically invest in their union regardless of their stance. Since then, members of the BDS caucus have been hosting educational events and panels, including one in November titled “UAW: Time to Stand Up to Israeli Apartheid.”

GSOC has two mechanisms to trigger a referendum: either the executive body of the union can, by majority vote, call for a referendum, or any union member can gather the signatures of 10 percent of the membership and submit them to set the process in motion.

Opting for a bottom-up approach, the BDS caucus decided to pursue the latter option. Discussing BDS with graduate students in their workplaces, offices, and labs proved spectacularly effective, and over 300 NYU grads eventually signed on to the petition in favor of the BDS referendum.

The labor movement, especially in recent decades, has often shrunk from the kind of mobilizing strategy behind this campaign. This is why the BDS campaign is part of the battle for the soul of the union. While the UAW International Executive Board nullifies the democratic decisions of its rank and file, the BDS campaign is moving and shaking at the base.

As a relatively new union, GSOC is still in its organizing phase of signing up its membership. In order for petition signatures to count toward the BDS referendum, signees need to be card-carrying members of the union, and the same goes for voting in the referendum.

By signing up members over the past five months of the campaign, BDS has been building the union itself, and providing an avenue for dedicated activists to organize their fellow workers and play a role in determining the direction of their union.

Encouraging rank-and-file engagement, making serious efforts to inform the membership about the vote, and putting solidarity at the center of union politics–that is how to revitalize a union and the labor movement as a whole. By taking a bold stance in solidarity with the workers and oppressed of the world, GSOC can exemplify what a union should be.

In the coming weeks, the BDS caucus plans to continue organizing amongst graduate workers, help publicize the town halls, and prepare members to get out the vote on the day of the referendum.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

AT THE first Town Hall meeting on the referendum at NYU, opponents of BDS were noticeably weak, both in number and in argument. Attempts to portray the occupation of Palestine as two equal sides in need of dialogue fell flat, with one union member Nathan Pensler illustrating the situation in Palestine by reference to the power imbalance at the bargaining table:

Our opponents think dialogue alone can achieve justice in Palestine. But as we know from our recent contract campaign, when one side can deploy overwhelming power and force, you’re not negotiating as equals. We had to mobilize our membership and threaten to strike in order to have any real power at the bargaining table. BDS is doing the same thing: it’s correcting a massive power imbalance that prevents dialogue from being effective. So even if you think dialogue or negotiation might help, BDS is necessary to give Palestinians a meaningful voice.

Updated Zionist talking points pay lip service to the desperate plight of Palestinians living under the Israeli jackboot, but take issue with BDS as a means to achieve peace. The fact that Israel’s propagandists have already conceded this much ground confirms the longer-term and ongoing shift in public opinion toward a new common sense in support of Palestinian human rights and dignity.

We should be clear: the BDS movement is the motor driving this visible shift in public opinion, the more so as it continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

Over the last couple years, the BDS movement has gathered significant momentum, with several U.S. academic institutions joining in, including the American Studies Association, the American Anthropological Association and the National Women’s Studies Association, along with dozens of student government resolutions.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE ACADEMIC boycott of Israel stands in the proud tradition of the academic boycotts of apartheid South Africa in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. In 1985, NYU divested fromcompanies complicit in apartheid South Africa.

Twenty-eight years later, in 2013, NYU president John Sexton and Provost David McLaughlin trampled on this legacy of solidarity by condemning the American Studies Association endorsement of BDS, calling it “a disavowal of the free exchange of ideas and the free association of scholars that undergird academic freedom.”

In reality, ongoing support for the Israeli military state is undermining academic freedom in Palestine every day. Israeli universities discriminate against Palestinian scholars in their admission policies, scholarships, and dorm applications–not to mention the bombing of Palestinian academic institutions or the frequent calls to violence against Palestinian students who speak out.

Palestinian organizers are routinely targeted for repression as well. Just as the international academic community recognized that an academic boycott of apartheid South Africa was justified and necessary to open the way to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, so today academics are acting on the academic boycott specifically as an integral component of the BDS call. Supporting BDS is essential to restoring and securing academic freedom all over the world, today and for future generations.

Academic workers have proven to be an auspicious conduit for BDS to enter the U.S. labor movement, where it can exponentially increase its power and influence. For academic laborers, free speech and academic freedom are workplace conditions to be defended. Autonomy in the classroom and unrestricted research programs are a prerequisite for workers’ rights and workplace autonomy at universities.

That means labor unions organizing (usually precarious or contingent) academic workers have a duty to defend the right to free speech. Today, when BDS activists and scholars are subject to increased and disproportionate censorship and repression, we cannot allow our unions to simply tolerate sympathy with Palestine. Unions must become champions of Palestinian liberation and the BDS movement in the interests of the workers they defend.

With their potential social and economic weight, labor unions particularly can make a contribution to the global BDS movement. Around the world, numerous labor unions and union federations have complied with the call of Palestinian trade unions to endorse BDS.

In the U.S., the Connecticut AFL-CIO convention passed a resolution in favor of BDS last October, the United Electrical Workers adopted a resolution endorsing BDS in September, and the graduate student workers in UAW Local 2865 backed the campaign at the end of 2014.

Several Palestinian trade unions have now issued a letter directly to NYU graduate workersin GSOC-UAW 2110, calling on them to endorse BDS and stand up against Israeli human rights violations. As they say in their letter, “BDS has raised the price of these violations and given our people, including our workers, hope that one day we can live in freedom and dignity.”

Palestinians have gone long enough without justice. It is time to heed their call.

UAW 2865 Letter of Solidarity with Teachers in Palestine

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March 14, 2016

UAW 2865 Letter of Solidarity with Teachers in Palestine

Whereas we believe that all teachers deserve a living wage and merit pay increases, as well as to have a democratic union whose leadership is elected by its members, and

Whereas teachers’ labor has been historically undervalued and current global trends around the privatization of education have only further devalued this labor, and whereas the UAW 2865 is committed to the defense of quality public education in the United States but also all over the world, and

Whereas the BDS Caucus of UAW 2865 affirms and stands in solidarity with the rights and wellbeing of Palestinian workers, including Palestinian teachers, and

Whereas thousands of Palestinian teachers have entered their 4th week of a heroic and exemplary strike initiated on February 10th 2016, with the demands of a) Granting an occupational allowance of 2.5%; b) Granting a 5% increase of wages, which should be implemented retroactively from 1/1/2014 until 31/12/2015; c) Enabling teachers to progress on the salary scale as is the case for other categories of governmental workers; d) Paying a cost of living allowance for 2014 and 2015; and e) the Organization of free and democratic elections in the Palestinian Teachers’ Union and accountable leadership that represents rank-and file interests, and

Whereas the striking teachers, which provide primary and secondary instruction to 700,000 students in the West Bank, have managed to organize an overwhelming support of students, principals, parents and other fellow workers for their strike and demands, and

Whereas the crucial frontline educational work of these primary and secondary teachers in grossly undervalued, given that their demands for a living wage go ignored while other unions representing university teachers, engineers, and doctors have all won pay increases, and

Whereas the Palestinian Authority is interrupting and obstructing the right to strike in multiple ways and has begun to attack the striking teachers as “anti-government agents,” thereby intensifying repression for Palestinian teachers who already are denied basic rights and freedom because of Israeli occupation, and

Whereas Palestinian labor unions, including teachers, have initiated calls for international labor solidarity against Israel’s historic and ongoing colonial dispossession and occupation of all Palestinians, most recently witnessed during the July 2014 massacre in Gaza;

Let it be resolved that, we, UAW Local 2865, the UC Student-Workers Union representing 14,000 teaching assistants, readers and tutors of 9 campuses of the University of California in the United States, stand in full solidarity with the striking teachers until their demands are met, and demand the Palestinian Authority to respect labor rights and accept all the demands of the union.

Finally, we recognize that demands of dignity through social justice reforms can only be achieved so long as all Palestinians attain universal freedom including an end to occupation, dispossession and life as second-class citizens

In Solidarity,

UAW 2865 Joint Council

(UAW 2865 Solidarity with Teachers in Palestine)

Palestinian Trade Unions Urge GSOC-UAW 2110 to Endorse BDS

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UAW 2110 logoPalestinian Trade Unions Urge GSOC-UAW 2110 to Endorse BDS

8 March 2016

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the GSOC-UAW Local 2110,

Warm greetings from occupied Palestine,

As we approach the 68th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the 49th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Palestinians are calling for international solidarity with our struggle for freedom, justice and equality, including by endorsing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid.

Palestinians have been facing an escalating wave of terror attacks by extremist Israeli settlers on Christian and Islamic holy places, with full protection from the most racist government in Israel’s history. The illegal and inhumane siege of Gaza continues, and Israel’s Incremental and systematic campaign of dispossession and expulsion of entire Palestinian communities has intensified, particularly in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and the Naqab (Negev).

Extrajudldal executions of young Palestinians resisting injustice have increased sharply and so did the Israeli policy of collective punishment. Palestinian workers are facing an exceptional level of repression and humiliation at military checkpoints and as a result or Israel’s revocation of many of their work permits.

Labor union delegations have witnessed these human rights violations during their visits to the occupied Palestinian territory, where they met Palestinian trade union leaders and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). These experiences have persuaded many to translate their principled solidarity with the just Palestinian struggle to effective measures similar to those adopted by the international labor movement against apartheid South Africa.

We appeal to GSOC-UAW Local 2110 to adopt BDS “in connection with companies and investments profiting from or complicit in human rights violations arising from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel and to urge its affiliates and related pension and annuity funds to adopt similar strategies.”

The Palestinian-led, global BDS movement, which enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority In Palestinian society, including all trade union federations, has proven its effectiveness in holding to account Israel and the corporations and institutions that are complicit in its occupation and violations of human rights. BDS has raised the price of these violations and given our people, including our workers, hope that one day we can live in freedom and dignity.

We reiterate our call on all International labor and professional unions and associations to endorse BDS against Israel until it fully compiles with its obligations under international law. A top priority, in this respect, is to divest all pension and investment funds from banks and companies that are implicated in Israel’s human rights violations.

We also call for ending contracts with companies that profit from Israeli crimes, such as G4S, HP, Caterpillar, and all Israeli banks that finance the occupation, including the settlements and the wall, all illegal under international law.

The Palestine labor movement and professional syndicates stand against all forms of racism, discrimination, violations of human rights, and the exploitation of workers in Palestine, the United States and elsewhere. We stand with all struggles for racial, social and economic justice.

Together, we can build a better, more just world.

Signed:

– General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW)
– General Union of Palestinian Women
– Union of Palestinian Professional Associations (Palestinian Engineers Syndicate; Palestinian Pharmacists Syndicate; Palestinian Doctors Syndicate; Palestinian Dentists Syndicate)
– General Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Palestine (GFITUP)
– The Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions (PNFTU)

Press Release: Locals Call on UAW IEB to Respect 2865 Vote (UAW 2865 BDS Caucus)

A man arrives at a UAW Hall before listening to Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and others seeking political office address members of the Ankeny Area Democrats in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Press Release: Locals Call on UAW IEB to Respect 2865 Vote

Stunning Development for Union Democracy and Palestinian Justice as UAW Locals Across the Country Call Upon UAW International to Recognize UAW 2865’s BDS Vote

Press Contacts:

BDS Caucus
uaw2865bds@gmail.com

Elizabeth de Martelly
elizabeth.demartelly@gmail.com

Jennifer Mogannam
jennifer.mogannam@gmail.com

In December 2015, the International Executive Board (IEB) of the United Auto Workers (UAW) nullified a membership vote conducted by University of California academic workers’ union local UAW 2865 which endorsed joining the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli apartheid. The first major U.S. labor union to endorse BDS, members voted in support of this position by a landslide, in an unusually high-turnout election. Since then, numerous organizations, including other unions, have supported UAW 2865 and called on the IEB to reverse the nullification and respect local union democracy.

So far, UAW Local 4121 (University of Washington, Seattle), GSOC-UAW Local 2110 (New York University), and a caucus of members in GEO-UAW Local 2322 (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) have issued resolutions supporting UAW 2865 and expressed commitments of solidarity with Palestinian workers facing occupation. GSOC-UAW Local 2110, representing 1200 academic workers at New York University, declares: “At a time when the BDS demand is gaining traction on university campuses and more broadly among progressive forces in this country, why can’t the labor movement play a similar role?…As proud members of the UAW, we reject this attempt at marginalizing our comrades in Local 2865 and demand that the International reinstate their vote.” UAW Local 4121, representing 4,000 academic workers at the University of Washington, issued a similarly powerful resolution which states: “The UAW International Executive Board has intervened to nullify a democratic vote of the Union’s membership in support of Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights. In so doing, the International Executive Board attempts to set a dangerous precedent that infringes on one of the fundamental rights of workers: the right to stand, even symbolically, in solidarity with oppressed peoples.” Washington workers reiterated that Palestinian trade unions have called on unions internationally to implement BDS. A caucus of UAW workers from GEO-UAW Local 2322 at UMass Amherst also declare their firm support for BDS and union democracy: “We stand with UAW 2865 and its support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. We urge you to reverse your decision, in the interests of the most basic standards of union democracy, and to send a clear signal that the US labor movement does not support apartheid.”

It is clear that a member’s appeal of UAW 2865’s vote, itself part of the anti-Palestine backlash following UAW 2865’s resolution, has backfired. If the intention was to silence debate on this issue and foreclose solidarity with Palestinian workers as a viable activist concern for U.S. labor unions, the opposite has happened: The IEB’s nullification has emboldened labor activists from other locals within and outside of the UAW to step up and voice support for BDS and for Local unions’ rights to take independent democratic stands. Before the nullification, the IEB had only UAW 2865 to contend with in its disagreement on the issue of Palestine. Now, it must contend with an increasing number of other locals who have taken steps to support UAW 2865’s right to have a position on this matter. Petitions by Jewish Voice for Peace, Labor for Palestine, and U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation have called on the IEB to reverse the vote nullification, collectively receiving nearly 18,000 signatures, many of them labor activists and prominent labor leaders across the country. Instead of having the chilling effect that opponents of the resolution desired, the IEB’s nullification has prompted an even greater response in support of BDS in the labor movement. Momentum is growing.

UAW 2865 has appealed the IEB’s nullification to the Public Review Board, a body that functions as an appellate authority for disputes between the IEB and its subordinate locals, and is awaiting a ruling.

This statement is issued by the BDS Caucus, a group of rank-and-file UAW 2865 members spanning every UC campus dedicated to organizing and advocating for equality and justice for the Palestinian people.

Resolution in Solidarity with UAW Local 2865 and Union Democracy (UAW Local 4121)

4121_logo
[Adopted by UAW 4121 membership, February 11, 2016]

UAW Local 4121 Resolution in Solidarity with UAW Local 2865 and Union Democracy Co­-Sponsored by: UW Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU), UW Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlán (MEChA), UW Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER), UW United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)

WHEREAS UAW Local 2865, which represents over 14,000 student workers throughout the University of California system, has lent support to countless human rights struggles, both foreign and domestic. From Ayotzinapa, Mexico to Capetown, South Africa; from Ferguson, Missouri to Oakland, California—Local 2865 has consistently stood in solidarity with the oppressed in word and in action; and

WHEREAS in an effort to support Local 2865’s commitment to universal justice and democracy, 2865 rank­-and­-file members are asking other unions for help. The UAW International Executive Board has intervened to nullify a democratic vote of the Union’s membership in support of Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights. In so doing, the International Executive Board attempts to set a dangerous precedent that infringes on one of the fundamental rights of workers: the right to stand, even symbolically, in solidarity with oppressed peoples; and

WHEREAS following the Israeli siege on Gaza in July 2014 which killed over 1,500 civilians, including 539 children[1], the Joint Council of Local 2865 was approached by a group of rank-­and­-file members asking them to support this divestment resolution. Rather than exercising their power to endorse resolutions under the UAW Constitution, the Joint Council chose to hold a member vote on the resolution, demonstrating their deep commitment to union democracy; and

WHEREAS Local 2865 engaged in months of educational forums and debates, engaging with rank-­and-­file members on both sides of this political debate; and

WHEREAS Local 2865 held a membership vote on December 14, 2014 where 65% of voting members endorsed a resolution calling on the UAW International and the University of California system to end investments in corporations complicit in violations of Palestinian human rights. This vote, taken in response to a call for solidarity from every Palestinian labor union and virtually all of Palestinian civil society, elicited a high voter turnout with 2,160 total UAW Local 2865 members voting in­-person at polling stations; and

WHEREAS Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups have urged allies to pursue Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) whenever possible[2] until such time as Israel ends its illegal occupation and colonization of Arab lands (which includes dismantling the wall in the West Bank), grants full equality to Palestinians living inside Israel who currently contend with a discriminatory legal system[3], and allows Palestinian refugees to return to their homes as mandated by UN resolution 194.[4]

WHEREAS the UAW International Executive Board (IEB), in its ruling, recognized UAW 2865’s education and outreach efforts and strongly defended the integrity of the voting process. Despite recognizing the vote results as the collective will of Local 2865 members, the International Executive Board chose to suspend democracy and ignore rank-­and-­file members who voted on the resolution; and

WHEREAS the UAW IEB justified its nullification of UAW Local 2865’s resolution by conflating criticism of Israel’s occupation of Palestine with anti­-Semitism, a practice that cheapens the ongoing reality of anti­-Semitism and ignores the extensive support and work for the resolution of many Jewish and Israeli UAW members. In addition, the IEB ruling also cited fears that divestment would interfere with “the flow of commerce,” a claim that UAW Local 2865 members have criticized as putting the interest of big business before the well­-being and livelihood of Palestinian workers; and

WHEREAS the UAW International has taken positions on many other human rights struggles, including the struggle to boycott and divest from the South African Apartheid regime. Nelson Mandela met with UAW President Owen Bieber to personally thank him for UAW’s divestment efforts after his release from prison. Rank-­and-­file activists initiated UAW divestment from South Africa, and UAW might not be able to proudly celebrate this piece of history if skeptical leaders had marginalized those early efforts by rank­-and-­file members; and

WHEREAS the UAW IEB’s ruling is at odds with the pro­-BDS position of many Black Lives Matter activists and international trade unions, including Britain’s largest trade union, Unite.

WHEREAS The BDS caucus of UAW Local 2865 has appealed the UAW IEB’s ruling to the UAW’s Public Review Board and is requesting solidarity resolutions from other UAW Locals; and

WHEREAS the power of a Union isn’t bestowed upon it by its elected leaders, but rather is a function of the volunteer activism of rank­-and-­file members; and

WHEREAS An injury to one, is an injury to all.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY UNITED AUTO WORKERS LOCAL 4121:

THAT UAW Local 4121 stands in solidarity with UAW Local 2865 rank­-and-­file members in protesting this subversion of union democracy by the UAW International Executive Board; and

THAT UAW Local 4121 urges the UAW International to reverse its initial ruling against UAW Local 2865’s BDS resolution during the Public Review Board process; and

THAT A copy of this resolution be included in UAW Local 4121’s next email communication to its membership, as well as published on the http://www.uaw4121.org/ Homepage; and

THAT UAW Local 4121 President David Parsons send a copy of this resolution to UAW International President Dennis Williams and other members of the UAW International Executive Board, cc’ing UAW Local 2865 President Robert Cavooris, within three days of this resolution’s passage.

Citizens of Israel Support UAW Local 2865 following BDS vote nullification by UAW International Executive Board (Boycott From Within)

Citizens of Israel Support UAW Local 2865 following BDS vote nullification by UAW International Executive Board

February 2016

Citizens of Israel Support UAW Local 2865 following BDS vote nullification by UAW International Executive Board

To whomever it may concern,

We are citizens of Israel who support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel. We write to add our voices in support of (UAW) Local 2865, the union representing 12,000 Academic Student Employees – Tutors, Readers, and Teaching Assistants – at the nine teaching campuses of the University of California, following the nullification of their pro-BDS vote by UAW International Executive Board.

We understand that the nullification was made due to pressures, irrespective of prior months of open debate in the public sphere and a democratic election process, which resulted in a 65% endorsement of voting members.

In the Israeli public sphere there’s no room for debate on the fate of the indigenous Palestinian people. Any mention of the daily, ongoing, systematic human rights violations, war crimes, colonisation, apartheid system, military occupation, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, are silenced and vilified. We are horrified to see the duplication of the same silencing tactics abroad.

There is nothing anti-semitic about opposing systematic human rights violations. The international community- states, institutions, businesses, unions, and individuals- all have an obligation to withdraw participation from such inhumane acts.

We hope to see the democratic process restored at UAW, as we know first hand how the erosion of democracy can only make way for the normalisation of harm of human life and liberty.

Sincerely,
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

http://boycottisrael.info/