Solidarity with Campus Protesters

June 7, 2024

UE stands in full solidarity with the students and workers who have been expressing their support for the Palestinian people through peaceful protests on campuses across the country.

We unequivocally condemn the violent tactics which university and local police forces have used to break up the encampments. While administrators have claimed they are doing this to maintain “safety” on campus, a recent study of over 500 campus demonstrations found the protests to be overwhelmingly peaceful.

Participants in the encampments and other protests have faced suspension, expulsion, and other academic sanctions — which for graduate workers, including many represented by UE and other unions, means the loss of their jobs. UE locals and other university unions have been taking vigorous action to defend union members’ right to engage in peaceful protest.

UE locals took the lead in organizing a statement, signed by unions representing over 100,000 university workers across the country, condemning the use of violent force and disciplinary actions by university administrations. This General Executive Board is in full agreement with their statement, especially when they note that “the freedom to assemble and protest are foundational to democracy and to our ability as workers to collectively fight for meaningful changes in our workplaces and the world.”

In May, UE joined with other unions representing over a million workers in a statement declaring that “as trade unionists, we can never support efforts to repress, intimidate or deploy state-sanctioned violence against those exercising their democratic rights of free speech and who protest, strike, or demand justice.”

The attacks on campus protesters are part of a new McCarthyism, in which any criticism of the Israeli government is labeled as “anti-Semitism” — and any individual or organization which dares to express such criticism is then subject to vicious attacks. As a union which was relentlessly red-baited during the Cold War, we know well how destructive such attacks can be.

At our most recent convention in September, rank-and-file delegates from across the country and from a wide variety of workplaces reaffirmed our union’s support for Palestinian self-determination and opposition to Israel’s apartheid rule. The many UE members involved in the campus protests are carrying out UE policy, one democratically decided upon by our rank-and-file members. As our joint statement with the UAW, American Postal Workers Union, Association of Flight Attendants, Painters, National Nurses United and other unions concludes, “The time for peace is now. We stand in solidarity with the protesters.”


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