Convention Condemns War, Attacks on Civil Liberties

November 3, 2023

When Dhananja Dassanaike, Local 1004, rose to speak in support of the resolution, “For Peace, Jobs, and a Pro-Worker Foreign Policy,” he drew specific attention to its mention of the situation faced by the Palestinian people. Dassanaike described some of those conditions in more detail: denial of healthcare, pregnant women having to give birth while being detained at checkpoints, Palestinian children being run over by Israeli state security forces, and Palestinian homes being appropriated by Israeli settlers. In supporting the resolution, he said, he hopes that one day, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Fred Hatef, Local 1008, added that “on a personal note” he wanted to “express my gratitude” to the union for standing with the Palestinian people. He also pointed out that the U.S. government is “pursuing war at every opportunity” and noted the particular danger of war with China. Hatef’s proposal to add a new resolve demanding that the U.S. government de-escalate tensions with China was accepted as a friendly amendment by the Resolutions Committee.

Mike Giles, Local 506, said that the threat of war with Russia “scares the living hell out of me.” Ramona Malczynski, Local 1466, noted that most of the mainstream media only say “what the war-mongers want them to say” and urged other UE members to “look at independent media, read multiple news sources.” She noted that the U.S. has 750 military bases across the world in 80 other countries, and said “Let’s solve the problems here before we go into other countries.”

Speaking on the resolution ”Defend Our Civil Liberties,” Hannah Melick, Local 1498, pointed out that our civil liberties include the right to vote, and that those rights are under attack in many states. Western Region President Bryan Martindale said, “We need to find a way to stop them from dividing us,” and Dawn Meyer, Local 808, added, “If we don’t stand up for ourselves, nobody else is going to.”

General President Carl Rosen drew attention to the resolution’s description of how the Georgia attorney general’s office is using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute to prosecute organizers connected to the nonviolent “Stop Cop City” movement in Atlanta. He told delegates that when the RICO act was passed in 1970, UE warned that it could be used against protest movements. “You get the wrong people in office, the wrong people as prosecutors, they could go after the labor movement.”

Rosen said that in the face of this kind of persecution of protesters, working people need to “reassert our constitutional rights to associate with each other in order to protest things we don’t like.”

Scott Slawson, Local 506, Megan Hedrick, Local 123, and Tobias Pace, Local 808, also spoke on the resolution.


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