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Labor for Palestine

California Court DEMANDS UAW Stop Strike at UC

‘Recognize Gaza as a famine zone’ La Via Campesina issues Solidarity Statement with the Palestinian People

By staff - La Via Campesina, May 31, 2024

The genocide war committed by the Israeli occupation against Gaza has now reached 230 consecutive days. The Palestinian people continue to endure a brutal genocide that has escalated into one of the most severe humanitarian crises in recent history. The unyielding assault has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives, with countless more injured or displaced, their homes and communities reduced to rubble amidst relentless bombings.

In a groundbreaking development, we commend the initiative of Karim Khan, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who has formally requested the court’s judges to issue arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Minister of War, Yoav Gallant. This marks a historic step toward achieving accountability for the high-ranking officials responsible for orchestrating widespread atrocities against the Palestinian people. This move by the ICC represents a critical advancement in the long pursuit of justice for Palestine, signaling to world leaders that impunity for war crimes will not be tolerated.

Among the backdrop of this relentless genocide war, La Via Campesina stands firmly in solidarity with the Palestinian people, whose resilience in the face of such adversity is nothing short of heroic. The Palestinian spirit of resistance, manifested in their steadfast refusal to surrender their rights and dignity, is an inspiration to all who stand against oppression and strive for justice worldwide.

University of California Workers Strike Against Repression

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, May 30, 2024

Two thousand student workers at the University of California Santa Cruz stopped work May 20 in the first of a series of compounding strikes protesting the university’s response to pro-Palestinian protests. The university in turn has filed charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board accusing the union of violating the no-strike clause of its contract and is asking for an injunction to block the strike.

The United Auto Workers (UAW), represents 48,000 graduate student teaching assistants, researchers and other academic workers at University of California’s 10 campuses. 79% of voting members across the state authorized the union leadership to call for rolling “stand up” strikes – tactic used successfully in the UAW’s strike against the big three auto companies last year.

The strikes are based on charges the union has brought for unfair labor practices. The union complaint focuses on the arrests of pro-Palestinian graduate student protesters at UCLA and suspensions and other discipline at UC San Diego and UC Irvine. It accuses the universities of retaliating against student workers and unlawfully changing workplace policies to suppress pro-Palestinian speech.

Graduate workers at UCLA, the University of Southern California, the University of California at San Diego, Brown University and Harvard University have filed similar unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over how their university administrations unilaterally changed policies and responded to Gaza protests.

For a video featuring UAW members explaining the strike:

UAW 4811 STRIKE Against UC Anti-Palestine Repression

The Students Are Right

By Jerome Roos - The Rift, May 23, 2024

It’s been quite a sight. Over the past month, students have been rising up against Western support for the Gaza war and in solidarity with the Palestinian people from California to Kyoto. They’ve had enough: no longer will they allow their governments and universities to be complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The first protest camp was set up at Columbia University in mid-April, in the historic cradle of the 1968 student protests against the Vietnam War and the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s. Since then, the demonstrations have spread across the United States. For weeks now, the same chant has been echoing through the “hallowed halls” of academia all over the country: “Disclose, divest! We will not stop, we will not rest!”

In the first week of May, the solidarity encampments crossed the Atlantic and began to spread like a wildfire through Europe as well. I was in London when the first tents went up at UCL and SOAS earlier this month. When I arrived in Cambridge for a conference a few days later, students there had just started another solidarity encampment in coordination with their peers at Oxford. Once I got back home to Amsterdam, I found students there still seething with anger over a violent police crackdown on a series of attempted encampments. Last week, students at my own university, the London School of Economics, launched an occupation as well.

The protest camps and solidarity actions have now spread to at least 247 universities worldwide. There have been demonstrations on campuses in Canada and Australia, in Mexico and Argentina, in Egypt and South Africa, in Lebanon and India, in New Zealand and Japan. What unifies them is a simple set of demands: that universities end their involvement in human rights violations by cutting ties with Israel’s system of apartheid and divesting from the military-industrial complex more generally.

For this, the students have been widely vilified. In the US, President Joe Biden sternly lectured the younger generation that “dissent must never lead to disorder”—as if a few broken windows at Columbia hurt his sensibilities more than the destruction of twelve universities, 280 government schools and 65 UNRWA-run schools in Gaza. Hillary Clinton went even further in her condescension of the students, saying that young people “don’t know very much at all about the history of the Middle East, or frankly about history in many areas of the world, including our own country.”

The situation in Europe has not been much better. In France, the regional council of Paris briefly suspended its funding to Sciences Po after accusing students there of US-style “wokisme.” In the Netherlands, far-right leader Geert Wilders interrupted the formation of his new coalition government to denounce the protesters as “antisemitic scum.” And in Britain, where university leaders have generally taken a more de-escalatory approach, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is needlessly inflaming the tensions with his repeated calls on vice-chancellors to quell the peaceful demonstrations.

Despite this widespread demonization, most students have actually been remarkably reasonable in their demands.

Unions Must Go Beyond Calling for a Cease-Fire in Gaza

By Jeff Schuhrke - Jacobin, February 13, 2024

Four months into Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza that has killed over twenty-eight thousand Palestinians, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) — the US labor federation whose member unions represent 12.5 million workers — issued a statement on February 8 urging a negotiated cease-fire to end the violence.

The move came after over two hundred US unions and labor bodies — including national unions like the United Electrical Workers (UE), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), United Auto Workers (UAW), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), National Nurses United (NNU), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Education Association (NEA), Communications Workers of America (CWA), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — had already made cease-fire calls of their own. Many unions, especially at the local level, have also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian liberation movement.

With the backing of the AFL-CIO and the nation’s two largest unions (NEA and SEIU), support for a cease-fire is now the mainstream position of the American labor movement. Given US labor officialdom’s history of providing substantial political and material aid to the state of Israel — along with its frequent partnering with US empire (which I examine in my forthcoming book, Blue Collar Empire) — this is a remarkable development highlighting the power of rank-and-file organizing to push union leaders on critical issues, and signaling the possibility of building a more internationalist labor movement.

Now, the task for rank-and-file members who successfully organized to get their unions to issue cease-fire statements increasingly is to translate that commitment into concrete action to stop what the International Court of Justice considers Israel’s plausible acts of genocide. Across the US labor movement, networks of pro-Palestine workers are continuing to organize to get their unions to cut economic ties with Israel, put pressure on political candidates and elected officials, and interrupt the flow of union-made weapons and research to the Israeli military.

Labor unions are making unprecedented calls for a ceasefire in Gaza: Unions are figuring out what comes next after taking a public stand against the apartheid State of Israel’s genocide in Gaza

By Laura Weiss - Prism, January 22, 2024

Before dawn broke on Jan. 14, hundreds of labor organizers and activists convened at the Port of Oakland for a protest to prevent ships carrying weapons bound for Israel from leaving the docks. Activists from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which co-organized the event, kept the momentum going all day. In the afternoon, 200 workers reportedly refused to cross the picket line to help load the ships. 

“The labor movement has the power to disrupt supply chains,” said Zachary Valdez, a union steward with United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110 based in New York. “Workers can shut everything down.”

The action was an impressive show of solidarity between the labor movement and the Palestinian cause, one of a number of actions in the Bay Area and across the country co-organized or supported by unions in recent months, including teach-ins and other civil disobedience efforts.

Since the October attacks on the apartheid State of Israel by Hamas, the political and military organization that governs Gaza, Israel’s genocidal bombing campaign has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians in Gaza, and the Israel Defense Forces has destroyed critical infrastructure, including electricity, hospitals, and the internet, shut off access to water, and purposefully created famine conditions. This has prompted a sea change in public opinion on Israel, with two-thirds of Americans saying they support a ceasefire in Gaza, all while the U.S. government continues to send billions of U.S. military aid to Israel. 

Within the labor movement, hundreds of unions and union locals have responded to a call from Palestinian labor unions and signed resolutions calling for a ceasefire, even those whose leadership has historically supported Israel. On Dec. 1, UAW, one of the largest unions in the country, made history when it released a ceasefire statement. Other influential unions, such as the United Electrical Workers, American Postal Workers Union, and 1199SEIU (United Healthcare Workers East), and countless other smaller unions have also released similar statements. On Jan. 22, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the second-largest public service employees union in the country, also released a call for a ceasefire. 

“We, members of the American labor movement, mourn the loss of life in Israel and Palestine. We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel, and we call on President Joe Biden and Congress to push for an immediate ceasefire and end to the siege of Gaza,” reads the petition signed by UAW and hundreds of other union locals.

Labor activists say the increasing number of unions supporting this call is a big deal. 

800+ Organizations Globally Sign On To Letter Supporting South Africa’s Genocide Case Against the State of Israel

By staff - La Via Campesina, January 10, 2024

The newly-formed International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine (ICSGP) issued a sign-on letter* on January 3, 2024 that garnered over 800 organizational endorsements from around the world in less than one week. In addition to the initiating organizations noted here, signing organizations represent broad social movements, including World March of Women and the International People’s Assembly, Palestinian-led and Palestinian solidarity movements such as Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions and the Palestinian NGO Network, as well as human rights and legal groups, unions, and religious organizations of all faiths. La Via Campesina is also among the signatories.

“It is important for La Via Campesina to support the South African initiative. What is happening in Palestine is an atrocity. In particular, the use of starvation as a weapon of war is part of a strategy of genocide that we need to denounce. The expulsion of farmers and land grabs in Gaza as well as the West Bank, is also part of a strategy of ethnic cleansing,” said Morgan Ody of the Confédération Paysanne (France) and General Coordinator of La Vía Campesina International. “La Via Campesina calls upon the governments of the world, and in particular progressive governments and those in the Global South, to do everything in their power to stop Israel’s apartheid and colonization. Those governments have the responsibility to coordinate their efforts in order to ensure a future for Palestine and for all Palestinian people, and to make sure that those responsible for Israel’s crimes against humanity are held accountable.”

The coalition letter urges all signing organizations to press their “governments to immediately file a Declaration of Intervention in support of the South African case against Israel at the International Court of Justice to stop the killing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” So far, Malaysia and Turkiye, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents 57 member countries on four continents, have publicly supported South Africa’s case. Jordan reports that it intends to take the more legally substantive step of submitting a Declaration of Intervention. Members of ICGSP are working closely with a number of other countries that are in the process of doing the same.

“The South African filing before the ICJ marks a critical juncture which tests the global will to salvage the laws and systems which were designed to safeguard not merely human rights; but to preserve humanity itself,” emphasizes Lamis Deek, co-founder of The Global Legal Alliance for Palestine and the PAL Commission on War Crimes. “Genocide is the highest crime and none has been so publicly documented as the Israeli Genocide in Palestine. The sincerity of states’ commitment to the principles of the Geneva and Genocide Conventions is now under heavy scrutiny. The very least states can do is to submit Declarations of Intervention as a small part of fulfilling their obligations under Article 1 of the Genocide Convention, to assure their people—and humanity—that they have lost neither their moral compass nor abdicated their obligations under international law.

UAW Calls for Cease-Fire in Gaza

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, December 1, 2023

The United Auto Workers international, which represents 400,000 workers and 580,000 retirees, called on December 1 for a cease-fire in Israel and Palestine. UAW President Sean Fain posted:

I am proud that the UAW International Union is calling for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine. From opposing fascism in WWII to mobilizing against apartheid South Africa and the CONTRA war, the UAW has consistently stood for justice across the globe.

At a press conference outside the White House where protesters had been on hunger strike, Brandon Mancilla, UAW director, said, “A labor movement that fights for social and economic justice for all workers must always stand against war and for peace.” He also announced,

Our 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.

The American Postal Workers Union, UE union, the California Nurses Association, the Chicago Teachers Union and several other local unions and worker groups have issued public calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. You can view a roundup of unions calling for a ceasefire here.


Unions Rally for Ceasefire in Gaza as Climate Crisis Lurks

By Ted Franklin - Labor Rise, November 22, 2023

Labor Unions across the country are calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, one of the most climate-challenged places on Earth. In the best of times, Gazans live on the frontline of climate change. Now they are living in a warzone rapidly turning to rubble.

U.N. experts say Israel’s bombing campaign has hit wells, water tanks, and other water supply infrastructure necessary to supply the minimum amounts of water needed to sustain human life. In early November, the UN reported that only 5% of Gaza’s water needs are now being met. The enclave lacks potable groundwater and depends on power and water supplies that have been cut off by the Israeli siege. UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, has warned that 70 percent of people in the Gaza Strip are now drinking contaminated water.

In mid-October, Palestinian trade unions issued an urgent global call to action, calling on workers everywhere to halt the sale and funding of arms to Israel and block related military research. The responses of the U.S. labor movement have varied. Some unions have aligned themselves with Palestinian calls for an end to Israeli occupation. Some have focused on ending U.S. support for the Israeli military effort. All are backing a ceasefire that President Biden and most U.S. politicians have so far refused to endorse.


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