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Gimme some DAPL

By Danny Katch - Socialist Worker, December 2, 2016

THE NORTH Dakota governor and the Army Corps of Engineers have ordered the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters to clear out of the tent camps they've set up to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Water protectors have made many convincing points against DAPL on the grounds that it's a violation of tribal sovereignty, a threat to water safety and a contribution to increased global warming, while the government and the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) have mostly let attack dogs and water cannons do their talking for them.

So in the post-election spirit of getting out of our bubbles and engaging in respectful dialogue with the other side, I'm going make the case for DAPL for them. Since this is a serious argument, it will take the form of a listicle.

Nurses Donate $50,000 to Aid Veterans Stand with Standing Rock

By Charles Idelson - Common Dreams, December 2, 2016

As Third Delegation of RN Volunteers Heads to North Dakota
RNs Call to President Obama, Attorney Gen Lynch to Intervene

National Nurses United today announced that it is donating $50,000 to support U.S. service veterans who are assembling this weekend as peaceful, unarmed defenders for the water protectors at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota who are enduring military style police assaults for opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, herself a decorated veteran, will be joining with the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock mobilization to support the protectors and help raise public attention to the growing human rights emergency that has emerged at the protest site in the face of increased attacks.

The NNU donation will assist a delegation of Navajo veterans from Arizona and New Mexico who will join the veterans gathering this weekend. Through NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network, RN volunteers have worked with Navajo First Nation members before, providing first aid in September at the Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, AZ.

Veterans Stand for Standing Rock plan a deployment December 4 to 7 of 2,000 veterans of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard who intend to “defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation of the militarized police force and DAPL security.”

Concurrently, NNU is dispatching its third delegation of RN volunteers Saturday to stand in solidarity with the water protectors and their supporters.

“We salute the brave veterans who are standing up for the rights of the water protectors, and all of us who support this critical defense of the First Amendment right to assemble and protest without facing brutal and unwarranted attacks,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

In a letter last week to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, NNU urged the Department of Justice “to promptly end the militarized response to Standing Rock water protesters and immediately stop the law enforcement use of military grade weapons and equipment that comes from the federal government.”

Nurses also support the call by tribal leaders on President Obama to deny the easement for the pipeline and “to protect the water for Standing Rock citizens and the 17 million people downstream”  as well as the call on North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple to “stop the constitutional and human rights violations that are happening at Standing Rock.”

A combination of police agencies in apparent collaboration with DAPL private security contractors have reportedly used rubber/plastic bullets, tear gas grenades, pepper spray, sound cannons, and water cannons in sub-freezing temperature against those who oppose construction of a pipeline that the Standing Rock Sioux and allies say threatens water resources and ancestral sacred sites.

One protester, 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky, has faced the loss of an arm after being hit with a police concussion grenade, according to the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council.

NNU volunteers will also be on hand this coming weekend. One RN headed to the site this weekend, Amy Bowen, said she is “committed to exhausting every effort to help save our environment and take a stand for our most basic human necessity: clean, oil-free water.

“I, along with other nurse volunteers with RNRN, will stand in solidarity to support the water protectors,” Bowen said.

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

Veterans Arrive at Standing Rock to Act as 'Human Shields' for Water Protectors

By Nika Knight - Common Dreams, December 2, 2016

As tensions grow in North Dakota, with multiple eviction orders facing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, U.S. military veterans on Friday began arriving at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp.

The 2,000 veterans, which include Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), plan to act as an unarmed militia and peaceful human shields to protect the Indigenous activists from police brutality.

"I signed up to serve my country and my people and I did that overseas," Indigenous U.S. Navy veteran Brandee Paisano told the CBC. "I didn't think I'd have to do it here, on this land, so here I am. This is what I need to be doing."

The "deployment" is officially planned for December 4-7, but veterans who have arrived early have already taken their stand in front of the militarized police blockade stopping traffic into and out of the camp: 

The "Veterans Stand for Standing Rock" action has garnered widespread support, with the National Nurses United (NNU) union sending $50,000 to fund their expenses and a popular fundraiser surpassing $800,000 by Friday afternoon.

"We salute the brave veterans who are standing up for the rights of the water protectors, and all of us who support this critical defense of the First Amendment right to assemble and protest without facing brutal and unwarranted attacks," said NNU co-president Jean Ross.

Labor can't sit out the fight at Standing Rock

Cliff Willmeng interviewed by Sean Petty - Socialist Worker, November 28, 2016

THE STRUGGLE to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota has become a lightning rod in the concurrent struggle for Indigenous self-determination, to protect the basic water supply for a huge section of the country and to stop climate change. How did you get involved?

SELF-DETERMINATION is a position that cannot coexist within capitalism, since the 1 Percent could never survive an actual democracy.

This is harmful enough at the workplace where the dominant decision-making comes from the CEOs and upper management, instead of those of us actually performing the work. As it's applied to decision-making over the environment, the disenfranchisement of people becomes even more critical. First Nations, of course, have known this for many centuries through the genocide of Western expansion, and the same patterns exist today.

Where I live, my own community and many others attempted to move against the dominance of the fossil fuel industry by enacting local bans or moratoriums on oil and gas drilling in 2012 and 2013.

It resulted in near immediate lawsuits against the communities by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association on the basis that we did not have the authority to stop drilling, since that was in the possession of the state. One lawsuit was even joined by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who, along with the rest of the two parties, don't believe communities should have superior legal power to corporations.

This is playing out very directly and in the harshest sense against Native Americans in Standing Rock. What they have always known--and what more people are waking up to--is the fact that environmental sustainability is illegal under the American system of law.

THIS STRUGGLE in particular and the effort to stop climate change more generally were completely absent from the presidential debates. Why do you think that is?

IF CLIMATE change is addressed at all, the topic is couched in a set of superficial talking points. The reason is that the dominant forces of the U.S. military and economic system are permanently wedded to fossil fuels. So it doesn't matter if the application is fertilizer and industrial agriculture under Monsanto or war efforts.

The two political parties agree that nothing substantial can be done, or should be done, to address climate change. To do so would threaten their very existence.

AS A former union carpenter and current union nurse, what has been the role of unions in this struggle?

THE UNION leadership has centered itself upon a strategy of integrating the rank and file with management, the Democratic Party and Wall Street, which has meant the widespread demobilization of the membership over the prior 40 years.

This strategy, which some call "business unionism" and some call the "team concept," is based on cooperation with the owners, and has been so successful that unions are at a historic low in membership and strength. The strategy is dependent on removing any leadership role for working people at the workplace or the wider political process of the country. It means elevated positions for union leaders and a diminishing share of crumbs for the workers.

This has led people like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to serve as the mouthpiece of the bosses for some time, most recently through his endorsement of Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline. Thankfully, this extreme position has opened up a debate within organized labor itself, with many unions and rank-and-file members directly opposing the position of the AFL-CIO leadership.

IT SEEMS like the naked business union strategy within the energy and building trades unions is a key factor in providing political cover for the fossil fuel industry. Can you talk more specifically about the potential for organizing resistance against this strategy?

ANY REAL opposition to the fossil fuel industry is going to have to be led by the rank and file. There is the potential or likelihood that union leadership may be pulled in to assist that fight, but the people to lead it have to be the workers ourselves.

Within the fight against the fossil fuel industry, there is the potential for a new debate on the role of working people in forming our world and constructing a planet that is free of fossil-fuel use. This is already taking place in the ranks of the building trades, and those efforts will be opposed by the union leadership for reasons we've already discussed.

The fact is that we can create the best, safest and fullest employment in the process of a just transition from fossil fuels and the repairing of our infrastructure and environment. Where the building trade workers fight for this transition, they will need the support of all workers, and not in only the symbolic sense.

WHAT DO you see as the next steps for building union support?

THERE IS both a lot of work to do and an enormous potential. The vacuum left by the disastrous and weak strategy of business unionism can be filled by a new mobilization of working people to transform our world and our unions.

The first steps will be through bringing the fight and direct action of Standing Rock to our locals and union bodies, and through the education and mobilization of the rank and file. This work will be depend on building through groups like Labor For Standing Rock and a growing coalition of workers ready to lead.

We can join the fight led by the courageous First Nations at Standing Rock and defeat this pipeline. The moment we commit ourselves and unions to that clear goal, an entire world of possibility opens up. It could mean a new power for working people across the country and a powerful alliance of union labor with the frontline fighters ready to build a sustainable world.

Don't sit this one out. It is a true game-changer for us all.

Over 500 people in Sacramento stand in solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux

By Dan Bacher - Indybay.Org, November 18, 2016

Over 500 Sacramento area residents, including Native Americans, social justice advocates and environmentalists, joined tens of thousands of others throughout the world on November 15 to demand that the Obama administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers halt the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

They lined both sides of the street in front of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office on J Street, proclaiming their solidarity with the struggle of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota and their allies to stop the pipeline that carries fracked crude Bakken oil. Many drivers passing by on the busy street honked their horns in support of the protesters.

The protest took place the day after the Corps announced it is delaying an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline project until it conducts further environmental review and discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The Corps said “construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement.”

The Standing Rock Sioux and the water protectors opposing the pipeline are worried that the final Corps decision won’t be made until next year after Donald Trump is inaugurated. Trump’s transition team has vowed to expand offshore and offshore oil production throughout the nation.

Even more worrisome, Trump has invested between $500,000 and $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, according to financial disclosure forms, Wes Enzinna of Mother Jones reported. Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren also donated more than $100,000 to help elect Trump.

“Trump also owns stock worth between $500,000 and $1 million in Phillips 66, which will own a 25 percent share of the finished pipeline. One of Trump's key energy advisers is North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, who has encouraged him to dismantle key aspects of the Clean Water Act, which gives the Army Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate the nation's waterways and wetlands,” Ezinna wrote.

Tuesday’s protest was one of the largest regarding an indigenous struggle ever held in the Capital City. “We had an incredible turnout at our event,” said Chris Brown, an organizer from the Sacramento Climate Coalition. “A special shout out goes to the Nevada County protectors of water, who came out in droves.”

Brown noted that the Corps approved the construction pipeline without proper consultation or adequate environmental studies.

“The Standing Rock Sioux are resisting the DAPL, which threatens their water, ancestral burial sites, and Native sovereignty,” according to Brown. “They have been met with militarized police using automatic rifles, sound cannons, tear gas and mace, flash-bang grenades, bean bag rounds, and rubber bullets. The courage of the Water Protectors has inspired people all over the world.”

Cosponsors of the local action included Sacramento Area Friends and Relatives of the Lakota Nation, Sacramento Climate Coalition, 350 Sacramento, Davis MoveOn, Davis Stands with Standing Rock, Raging Grannies of Sacramento, Sacramento Stands with Standing Rock, Alianza, and Jewish Voice for Peace.

"The state of North Dakota has deployed the National Guard, State and Local Police and police from several other states as well as the FBI to protect Energy Transfer Partners, a privately owned pipeline construction corporation,” said Francisco Dominguez (Tarahumara) of Sacramento Area Friends and Relatives of the Lakota Nation. “The last time I checked we were still a Democracy."

Mariana Rivera from the Zapatista Coalition noted the links between the Sioux Tribe’s struggle in North Dakota and struggles of indigenous peoples and their allies to stop the raising of Shasta Dam, the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnels of Governor Jerry Brown and fracking in California.

“Native people are taking the lead on something that concerns us all, protecting our water and land. All of us to need to take a stand with Standing Rock now,” said Rivera.

“Extracting fossils fuels jeopardizes water systems and native rights — and that’s why we’re here in solidarity with them,” explained Alicia Esquivido, a local Greenpeace activist, who was there with fellow activist Trent Pearson.

Rick Guerrero, an SEIU organizer and former president of the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) Board said, “I'm here to stand with our brothers and sisters in North Dakota. Last week’s election crystallized how our resistance needs to be immediate and sustainable. This destruction needs to be be stopped not only for native people, but for the earth and all workers.”

Berkeley Federation of Teachers Resolution in Support of Resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline

Resolution Passed ca. November 17, 2016, by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, AFT local 1078

Whereas there is incontrovertible evidence that fossil fuel extraction and use is the main cause of global warming, which is an existential threat to humanity;

Whereas we Americans are painfully aware of the history of Native American dispossession and broken treaties, leaving native people in often impoverished reservations which have become prey to extractive industries, allowing only short-term profit but long term destruction to these areas;

Whereas recent statements by other unionists and the president of the AFL-CIO, of which the AFT is a part, have mislabelled protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) “environmental extremists” and “professional agitators” who “hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay.”;

Whereas these union leaders have also mischaracterized such pipeline jobs as “quality jobs,” when in fact they are temporary, unsustainable and highly dangerous and often deadly;

Whereas in fact the growth of the fossil fuel industry is incompatible with good union jobs, and more generally, there are no jobs on a dead planet;

Whereas we teachers of young people are interested in them achieving economic independence, being engaged with the wider world, and making sure they have a viable planet to live on and enjoy;

Whereas our own earned money, in the form of contributions to the California Teachers Retirement System (CALSTRS), is being invested in and thus supporting fossil fuel and extractive industries, and that teachers in California and across the US have been pressuring their retirement funds to divest from these industries;

Whereas more than a dozen other unions and labor organizations, including our own Alameda Labor Council and our sister local AFT 2121 in San Francisco have passed resolutions or offered support to the protest at Standing Rock;

Therefore, be it resolved:

That the Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the coalition of Native leaders and activists defending their cultural heritage, sacred grounds, right to protest, sovereign rights and right to clean water;

That the BFT call on the AFL-CIO to reverse its support of the Dakota Access Pipeline, reject the false “jobs vs. planet” paradigm, and advocate for real, sustainable and safe jobs that are compatible with the survival of all life on earth;

That the BFT call on the leadership of our state level organization, the California Federation of Teachers, and the directors of CALSTRS to heed the growing demand to divest our hard-earned pension money from any fossil fuel or extractive industries; and

That the BFT make a $500 donation to send a member to the frontline of the protest in North Dakota, or to contribute to their legal defense fund.

Labor activists for Standing Rock

Staff Interview - New York Nurses Association, November 2016

Nowhere is the battle to protect tribal lands and our country’s environment from the ravages of the oil and gas industry playing out more dramatically than in Standing Rock North Dakota, where the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the only water supply available to the Lakota and Dakota peoples of the Standing Rock Reservation. Recognizing early on the inherent justice in resistance, NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, with a contingent of our nurses and staff traveled to the Sacred Stone Camp to stand in solidarity with “the largest gathering of Native Tribes in the past 100 years of American History” against the pipeline.

Now labor activists and working people from across the country have followed suit. Labor for Standing Rock is a rank-and-file organization that has joined the First Nations in the fight to protect their water supply, their ancestral lands (and our planet) from the consequences of gas pipeline development. Cliff Willmeng, an RN from Lafayette, Colorado, and UFCW Local 7 member, is one of the organizers. He spoke with New York Nurse about why it is critical to support the Native American right to self-determination and their territories.

It’s a fundamental health issue

NYN: Why is a nurse from Colorado involved with a struggle in North Dakota?

Willmeng: Quite simply, advocating for our patients is a primary role and responsibility of nurses and all health care professionals. When we take a wider view of this, we have to conclude that the fight for the environment is really advocating for patients everywhere.

Where I live and work in Lafayette, Colorado, we are among communities nationally that are fighting the oil and gas industry, or as many people know it “fracking”. We experience the spills, explosions, fires and leaks that the fossil fuel industry is synonymous with everywhere. When Standing Rock began to find its way into the national news, it was an easy connection for many people living in the shadow of the oil and gas industry to make.

NYN: Can you talk more about the healthcare impacts of these pipelines in particular?

Willmeng: When the pipelines leak and fail there are no scientific remedies to restore the comprehensive damage to the environment they affect. Every living thing that depends on that environment is then exposed in multiple ways to the oil — which is both carcinogenic and disrupts the endocrine system.

NYN: What can unions and individual members do to participate in Labor for Standing Rock?

Willmeng: The most important actions have to do with educating and mobilizing support for Standing Rock and the larger fight against the fossil fuel industry. We can pass resolutions, sponsor busses to bring members to North Dakota and start to bring new people into local fights for the environment. With these first steps, we can make the connections between all union members and begin to organize a new labor movement that fights for full employment and builds a sustainable world where working people, not CEOs, are the new leaders.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Labor-For-Standing-Rock

DC IWW Resolution on Standing Rock

Official Statement by the DC IWW General Membership Branch - November 19, 2016

The DC General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World wish to express our solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock who are resisting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their tribal lands. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and those fighting alongside them, are on the front lines of environmental struggle in North America, standing against corporate power and greed, against government collusion with private interests, and above all against the planet-killing depredations of the industrial capitalist system.

To the water protectors at Standing Rock, we say the following: Your struggle, to defend your own communities, health, dignity, and livelihoods, is a clear lesson to all who love freedom and justice: there is not, and must not be, any separation between fighting for Mother Earth and fighting for our lives. Protecting the Earth from destruction is an act of collective self-defense. The Sioux phrase, “Mitakuye Oyasin” -- “All Are Related” -- is similar to the old IWW slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all,” reminding the working class of its common identity. By fighting the Dakota Access pipeline, the water protectors-our fellow workers- at Standing Rock protect not only themselves but millions of fellow workers who could potentially be impacted by the Dakota Access Pipeline.

By taking action to defend your water and land, you have struck powerful blows against the corporate action exploitation of the Earth. Your struggle is supported and appreciated. We encourage all groups and all peoples concerned with the exploitation of our Earth for profit to support the water protectors at Standing Rock.

In Harmony with the Earth! Mni Wiconi! Water Is Life!

Registered Nurse Response Network Sends Nurse Volunteers on Second Deployment to Standing Rock

By Charles Idelson - National Nurses United, November 7, 2016

National Nurses United (NNU)’s Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), a national network of volunteer nurses, will deploy a second team of RN volunteers to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation—to help with existing medical and first aid support for land and water protectors—NNU announced today.

“As a nurse, I understand the necessity of preserving and protecting our water. Water equals life, and the Dakota Access pipeline threatens the health and well being of millions of Americans,” said RNRN volunteer Amy Bowen, RN, who traveled to Standing Rock in October and will return again this month. “Nurses honor the sacrifices being made by the water protectors while they stand up for what is right, against corporate greed.”

RNRN volunteers will assist medic tents at the North/Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone camps. RNRN is also working with local partners to establish the Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) clinic to meet the ongoing healthcare needs of the Standing Rock Sioux community and the water protectors. Donations for the Mni Wiconi clinic can be made here: https://crowdfund.ucsf.edu/project/2913/updates/1

NNU has released several statements of solidarity with the standing Rock Sioux tribe and fellow water protectors, who, for months, have sought to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which nurses say poses great risk to public health. The nurses’ latest statement sharply condemns the violent attacks on protectors.

“This has become a seminal battle over the First Amendment protection of public protest. It is also a challenge for everyone who is concerned about the rights of First Nation people and their sacred sites and water sources, as well as the threat the pipeline poses to environmental degradation, public health, and to accelerating the climate crisis,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

“It is long past time to call into question all these dangerous pipeline projects that have become increasingly common, generally with far less public notice than the Dakota Access pipeline, or the similar successful campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline, has garnered. These projects pose a continual threat to public health from the extraction process through the transport to the refinery.”

Pipelines have proven to leak, including the recent Colonial Pipeline leak in Alabama and subsequent explosion at a second site. Nurses say spills from ruptured pipelines that contaminate water supplies can lead to numerous problems of respiratory ailments and other health symptoms associated with the spills.

RNRN Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, says nurses will continue to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock and condemn the violence committed against water protectors—with reports that clearly identified medics have also been attacked and arrested.

“Nurses will stand with the protectors at Standing Rock, and with our fellow caregivers, the medics — to say that DAPL is bad for public health, and those enforcing its construction cannot speak to its safety while simultaneously targeting for attack the very people with the power to heal,” said Castillo.

"As a registered nurse, it was a profoundly moving and humbling experience to live with and serve the water and land protectors at the Sacred Stone encampment on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation,” said DeAnn McEwan, who volunteered at Standing Rock in October. “Nurses feel a moral commitment to lend our skills and do whatever we can do to help protect and promote their health and right to the fresh, pure water that sustains all our lives." 

RNRN is powered by NNU, the largest organization of registered nurses in the U.S.

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

LIUNA’s Rank-and-File is Challenging Union Leadership on Standing Rock—and Beyond

By Kate Arnoff - In These Times, November 7, 2016

To date, several unions have come out in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, including the Communications Workers of America (CWA), National Nurses United, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Terry O’Sullivan—General President of Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA)—has few kind words for them. In a letter from late October, he called them “self-righteous,” “a group of bottom-feeding organizations” that “have sided with THUGS against trade unionists” and showed “a truly amazing level of hypocrisy and ignorance.”

 “LIUNA will not forget the reprehensible actions and statements against our members and their families from the five unions listed above,” O’Sullivan warned. “Brothers and sisters, for every ACTION there is a REACTION, and we should find every opportunity to reciprocate their total disrespect and disregard for the health, safety and livelihoods of our members.”

But will union leadership take “ACTION” against its own members, many of whom are bucking O’Sullivan’s position and choosing to stand with Standing Rock? The fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is creating and revitalizing alliances between indigenous communities, greens and labor. In short order, these newly strengthened ties could have a significant impact on the energy industry and the next president alike.

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