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June 6, 2018 5:02 pm

UC Student-Workers Union Urges Divestment From ‘Oppression of Palestinians’ During Contract Negotiations With Administration

avatar by Shiri Moshe

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UAW Local 2865 ‏members meeting with UC administrators on May 30, 2018. Photo: UAW Local 2865 / Twitter.

A union representing 16,000 student workers at the University of California urged administrators during ongoing contract negotiations to divest from companies accused of profiting from “the oppression of Palestinians.”

The UC Student-Workers Union (UAW Local 2865), whose 2014-2018 contract is set to expire at the end of June, shared its list of “Initial Sunshine Demands” for a new agreement in an email to members last week.

These include increased compensation, expanded healthcare coverage, and a housing stipend, as well as a commitment to “pursue UC Divestment and Socially Responsible Financial Practices.”

Administrators were specifically requested to “divest from corporations that profit from the prison industry, fossil fuels, and the oppression of Palestinians, including with funds invested in UC Safe Harbor.”

No other foreign conflict was invoked elsewhere in the list.

The demand seems to have been formulated by the union’s divestment working group, which was tasked with writing contract language targeting companies that profit from “armed occupation,” among other stipulations. It did not appear in a list of “Initial Bargaining Goals” the union presented to UC administrators on February 28th.

UAW Local 2865 said it planned to show support for its latest list of demands in a meeting with administrators on May 30th at UC-Santa Cruz.

Yet the union subsequently denounced the results of that bargaining session, saying administrators offered “little to no movement on core issues.” Another round of negotiations took place on Wednesday at UC-Riverside, and will continue on Thursday.

UAW Local 2865 — whose members include teaching assistants, graduate student instructors, readers/graders, and tutors — is a branch of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), which claims more than 400,000 active members in North America.

In 2014, UAW Local 2865 claimed it made history by becoming the first major US labor union to endorse the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel by membership vote. The resolution was opposed by a coalition of union members called Informed Grads, and later nullified by UAW’s International Executive Board (IED), which determined that it violated its own constitution.

“[It] is our unanimous belief that the notion of BDS, credibly, espouses discrimination and vilification against Israelis and UAW members who are of Jewish lineage,” the IED affirmed in its decision.

A subsequent appeal by UAW Local 2865 was rejected by UAW’s Public Review Board.

Representatives for UAW Local 2865 did not answer a request for comment by press time.

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