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CUPE 3902 Executive statement on the call for an academic boycott

Source: CUPE 2902, January, 2009

Many members have inquired about the process by which the CUPE Ontario leadership came to a position that calls for a boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions who fail to publicly condemn the Israeli military action in Gaza.

The position being advanced by some members of the CUPE Ontario leadership has not yet undergone the scrutiny of democratic consideration.  Fulsome debate will take place at future meetings of the Ontario University Workersí Coordinating Committee (February 20-22 in Windsor) and the CUPE Ontario Division (May 27-30 in Toronto).

For over thirty years, CUPE 3902 has advocated for and defended academic freedom. We continue to prioritize academic freedom in collective bargaining with the Employer, and to defend our members, in their teaching, against erosions and elisions of this freedom. 

As an autonomous local affiliated with CUPE Ontario, CUPE 3902 is not bound by any of the provincial divisionís resolutions. We do choose to support and participate in CUPE Ontario campaigns for coordinated bargaining, an end to the private UHIP health care plan, more union resources for the trades, an extensive worker organizing strategy, and an end to Canadian military presence in Afghanistan, among other campaigns. However, until the membership decides otherwise, CUPE 3902 will not endorse a call for a boycott of Israeli academics.

Our unionís strength rests upon its ability to unite large numbers of workers around common concerns, despite individual differences. We value the contributions that CUPE Ontario and the OUWCC have made to advancing the labour movement in our province and in our sector, and we will continue to participate in the democratic process by which they operate.

CUPE 3902 has its own policy on the long-standing Israel-Palestine conflict, adopted by the membership on October 24, 2006 after a difficult decision-making process and heated debate:

Be It Resolved That: CUPE Local 3902 adopt as its policy on the Middle East, the provisions of CUPE National's 2003 Resolution that state:

"call for and actively work towards an end to all acts of violence that take the lives of innocent people, whether they be Palestinian or Israeli"

"help develop a peace process based on equality between Israelis and Palestinians and based on the implementation of UN resolutions and international law"

Be It Further Resolved That: CUPE Local 3902 will not endorse or implement Resolution 50 passed by CUPE Ontario Division.

Be It Further Resolved That: as a local we will help to promote the interests of our fellow workers in the Middle East by consulting with and actively pursuing positive relations with the free and democratic labour union movement in the Middle East.

Members interested in attending the OUWCC or CUPE Ontario Division meetings as delegates are free to stand for election, and should contact External Representative Judy Pocock at external@cupe3902.org for more information.

Additionally, on January 6, 2009, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), an organization with which CUPE 3902 is affiliated, released a statement on the conflict in Gaza, which can be found here: http://www.caut.ca/pages.asp?page=729 

Press Releases

The CUPE proposals and clarification, (Jan 5, Jan 13, Jan 14)
CUPE 3902 (local branch), Executive Statement, (rejecting boycott proposal)
Canadian Graduate Students, Petition Against the Proposed CUPE Ontario Boycott of Israeli Academics and Institutions
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), petition
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), press release
B'nai Brith Canada, CUPE-National must address blatant discrimination by its Ontario affiliate, Press Release, January 6, 2009
B'nai Brith Canada, Why is CUPE National still silent on Hamas terrorism, Press Release, January 13 2009

News Reports

Union at Ontario Universities Proposes Boycott of Israeli Professors, The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 6, 2009
Sid Ryan's bigotry, National Post, 6 January 2009
Bob Dale, Ottawa needs to proscribe CUPE's anti-Israel agenda, The National Post, January 06, 2009
Sid Ryan keeps digging, National Post, 7 January 2009
Tamas Virag, Local Jews slam union ban idea, The Edmonton Sun, January 7, 2008
Kate Dubinski, Western rejects CUPE call for boycott, The London Free Press, January 8, 2009
CUPE should stay out of politics, Calgary Herald, January 08, 2009
Vanessa Kortekaas, CUPE Ontario leader apologizes for 'Nazi' reference, The Ottawa Citizen, January 8, 2009
Jessica Ireland, Ryan's Israel stance creates rift in CUPE, The Windsor Star, January 09, 2009
Susan Martinuk, Racism is behind push to ban Israeli scholars, The Calgary Herald, January 09, 2009
James Cowan, Right to fight?, National Post, January 10, 2009
Michael Coren, Lecture for a union, Toronto Sun, 10th January 2009
Oren Gross, CUPE Ontario's proposed boycott of Israeli academics is just plain anti-Semitic, The Globe and Mail, January 13, 2009
Kenyon Wallace, Ryan rebuked by national CUPE head, Toronto Star, 14 January 2009
Howard Levitt, Political lobbying doesn't help CUPE member interests, Financial Post, January 14, 2009
Joe Howell, CUPE Ontario proposes to ban Israeli academics from campuses, The Strand, 15 January 2009
Ryanís rage, Editorial, Canadian Jewish News, January 15, 2009
Murray Teitel, A waste of CUPE's money, Toronto Sun, 15 January 2009
Sid Ryan must go, National Post, 16 January 2009

Responces, Blogs, Newsletters

CUPE Shows Their Colours, Pelalusa Blog, January 05, 2009
CUPE Wants HM Government to Condemn Israel, Dr Roy's Thoughts, January 05, 2009
Israel Academic Boycott Urged by Canada Labor Leader, ZWord Blog, January 06, 2009
CUPEís Latest Gimmick: Just Plain Wrong, BlogUT (A blog by University of Toronto Students), January 6, 2009
Scratch A Leftist Labour Union, Small Dead Animals, January 06, 2009
CUPE asks that Israeli professors be blacklisted, Keyes, January 06, 2009
CUPE: Ban Israeli academics, The Shotgun Blog, January 07, 2009

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