Labor Activists Condemn FBI Repression
September 28, 2010
We deplore FBI raids on antiwar and Palestinian rights activists that took place in several cities on Friday, September 24, 2010.
The FBI claims it is investigating support for “terrorism.” But why are these activists really being targeted?
–For organizing antiwar protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, at which hundreds were beaten and arrested.
–For expressing solidarity with labor and popular movements in Colombia, where U.S.-funded government death squads have systematically assassinated hundreds of trade unionists.
–For opposing U.S. support of Israeli apartheid, which faces growing international isolation following its brutal war against the people of Gaza.
One such activist is Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago. While at the hospital where his mother is battling cancer, more than half a dozen FBI agents invaded his home and seized any document containing the word “Palestine.”
A remarkable number of the others are longtime labor activists:
*Joe Iosbaker, chief steward and executive board member of SEIU Local 73 in Chicago, where he has led struggles at the University of Illinois for employee rights and pay equity. He is a supporter of Labor for Palestine.
His wife, Stephanie Weiner, is a founding member and former executive board member and past member of the bargaining committee of AFSCME Local 3506 at Chicago City Colleges. She is a Palestine solidarity activist.
As Brother Iosbaker explained, FBI agents “systematically [went] through every room, our basement, our attic, our childrens’ rooms, and pored through not just all of our papers, but our music collection, our childrens’ artwork, my son’s poetry journal from high school — everything.”
*Tom Burke, former executive board member and union steward in SEIU Local 73 at the Oak Park River Forest public schools.
*Steff York and Jess Sundin, members of AFSCME Local 3800 and leaders of strikes at the University of Minnesota in 2004 and 2007.
*Tracy Molm, staff person for AFSCME Local 3800 in Minneapolis.
*Meredith Aby, member of Education Minnesota (NEA/AFT).
*Mick Kelly, member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Such political witch-hunts against social justice activists — under both Democrats and Republicans — are nothing new for the FBI.
In the 1950s, it spearheaded McCarthyism.
In the 1960s, its infamous COINTELPRO campaign targeted leaders of the civil rights and antiwar movements, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Panther Party. It attacked the American Indian and Puerto Rican independence movements.
Until recently, even Nelson Mandela was on the U.S. government’s politically-determined “terrorism” list.
In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration — with bipartisan Congressional support — launched a new attack on civil liberties and immigrant rights, thereby promoting war abroad and fueling a wave of racism and anti-Muslim bigotry at home.
Today, the Obama administration similarly exploits the pretext of “terrorism” in an effort to silence growing opposition to U.S. wars and apartheid Israel.
Indeed, these raids came only four days after the Department of Justice Inspector General criticized the FBI for targeting domestic groups such as Greenpeace and the pacifist Thomas Merton Center.
Like Dr. King before us, we will not be silenced. Instead, we ask all members of the labor movement to join us in demanding:
1. Stop the repression against trade union, antiwar and international solidarity activists.
2. Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, personal belongings, etc.
3. End the Grand Jury proceedings and FBI raids against trade union, antiwar and international solidarity activists.
Further, we join with the San Francisco Labor Council, which on September 27 called on all labor bodies, including Change to Win and the AFL-CIO, to declare their support for these demands before, during and after the One Nation March in Washington, DC on October 2.
(List in formation — ALL UNION BODIES LISTED FOR IDENTIFICATION ONLY. Endorse this statement:
1. Larry Adams, Former President, NPMHU L. 300; Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; People’s Organization for Progress
2. Michael Letwin, Former President, ALAA/UAW L. 2325; Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Labor for Palestine; Al-Awda NY; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network/Labor
3. Brenda Stokely, Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War; Co-Chair, Million Worker March Movement
4. Monadel Herzallah, President, Arab American Union Members Council, California
5. Stanley Heller, AFT L. 1547, Delegate, CT Central Labor Council; New Haven, CT
6. Lee Sustar, NWU/UAW L. 1981; Chicago, IL
7. Anthony Arnove, NWU/UAW L. 1981; New York, NY
8. Andy Griggs, Retired Social Justice Teacher/Unionist; Cafe Intifada and LA Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee; Los Angeles, CA
9. Emma Rosenthal, Retired Social Justice Teacher/Unionist; Cafe Intifada and LA-Palestine Labor Solidarity, Los Angeles, CA
10. Mike Gimbel, Retired Former Executive Board Member, AFSCME L. 375; New York, NY
11. Dave Welsh, Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council
12. Marty Goodman, Former Executive Bd. Member, TWU L. 100, New York, NY
13. Azalia Torres, Former Executive Bd. Member, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn, NY
14. Julie Fry, Vice-President, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn, NY
15. Steve Terry, ALAA/UAW L. 2325, Brooklyn, NY
16. Tibby Brooks, NWU/UAW L. 1981; New York, NY
17. Tyler Shipley, CUPE L. 3903; Toronto, ON
18. Peter Rachleff, Labor Educator and Historian; CWA; Saint Paul, MN
19. Dominic Renda, Chief Shop Steward, CWA L. 1105; New York, NY
20. Jim Holstun, Buffalo Center Chapter, UUP, NYSUT, AFT (L. 2190); Buffalo, NY
21. Bill Preston, President, AFGE L. 17; Alexandria, VA
22. Jerry Silberman, Senior Staff Representative, PASNAP/AFL-CIO, Philadelphia, PA
23. Rogers Turrentine, WGA, West; Oceanside CA
24. B. Ross Ashley, Retired, Former Shop Steward, Former Executive Council Member, SEIU L. 1 Canada and Former L. 204; Toronto
25. Hans-Peter Kohnke, CUPE; Toronto
26. Edward Childs, Chief-Steward, Unite-Here L. 26; Somerville, MA
27. Dan Kaplan, Executive Secretary, AFT L. 1493; San Mateo, CA
28. Daniel Bennet, IWW; Minneapolis
29. Eric Lerner, Former President, NJ Local, NWU; NJ Immigrant and Worker Rights Coalition; Berkeley Heights, NJ
30. Peter Parks, Retired ILWU Longshoreman; Portland Jobs with Justice; Portland Labor for Peace and Justice; Portland, OR
31. Charles Andrews, Labor Author; Oakland, CA
32. Michael D. Yates, AFT; Ford City, PA
33. Chaim Eliyah, Paralegal, United Students Against Sweatshops; Seattle, WA
34. Shelia Cassidy, Steel Workers Activist; Riverside, CA
35. Greg Dropkin, Unison; Liverpool Friends of Palestine; Liverpool, UK
36. Mary Lou Finley, Secretary, San Diego Paraeducators Chapter 759, CSEA
37. Frank Couget, NALC Branch 36, AFL-CIO; Astoria, NY
38. Nagesh Rao, AFT L. 2364; Ewing, NJ
39. Peter Eglin, Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association; Kitchener, ON
40. David Heap, University of Western ON Faculty Association
41. Gladys McKenzie, Field Representative, AFSCME Council 5; St. Paul, NN
42. Sameerah Ahmad, GEO-UAW L. 2322; Amherst, MA
43. Lucy Herschel, Delegate, 1199SEIU/UHWE; Jackson Heights, NY
44. Carl Gentile, National Representative, AFGE; Frederick, MD
45. Steven Wasserman, Senior Attorney Representative, ALAA/UAW L. 2325; New York, NY
46. Robin Alexander, Director of International Affairs, UE; Pittsburgh, PA
47. Sharon Black, Bail Out the People, AFT L. 2; Baltimore, MD
48. Edward Stiel, IBEW L. 302; San Francisco, CA
49. Thomas F Barton, AFSCME L. 768, DC 37; New York, NY
50. Dianne Feeley, UAW L. 235; Detroit, MI
51. Mark Stansbery, Union Representative, CWA L. 4502; Columbus, OH
52. Michael David Sasson, Former President, CUE L. 3; Oakland, CA
53. Clayton Levine, AFT and IWW; Albuquerque, NM
54. Melanie Jacobs, IWW; Albuquerque, NM
55. Casey J. Mulligan, Lawyer and Labor Union Supporter; Boulder, CO
56. Michael Butler, IWW; Gallup, NM
57. Jose Garza, IWW; Albuquerque, NM
58. Samuel Farber, Retired AFT, New York, NY
59. George Green, Organizing Director, SEIU L. 620; Santa Ynez, CA
60. Larry Bradshaw, Third Vice-President, SEIU L. 1021; San Francisco, CA
61. George dePue III, Retired UAW; Baltimore, MD
62. Glenn Shelton, Former President, NPMHU L. 307, LIUNA; Detroit, MI
63. Charles H. Nadler, Labor Attorney, NLG; Denver, CO
64. Barry Eidlin, UAW L. 2865; Berkeley, CA
65. Chuck Mohan, PSC L. 2334; New York, NY
66. Mark Clinton, Massachusetts Community College Council, NEA; Holyoke, MA
67. Stewart Robinson, Retired AAUP; Cleveland Hts., OH
68. Sheila Finan, Retired CSEA/AFSCME; Accord, NY
69. Frank W. Halstead, Shop Steward, IBT L. 572; Los Angeles, CA
70. Jon Flanders, Past President, IAM L. 1145; Trustee, Troy Area Labor Council; Co-Chair, Railroad Workers United; Troy, NY
71. Christine Karatnytsky, Former Executive Board Member and Editor of L. 1930 Update, NY Public Library Guild, AFSCME L. 1930; New York, NY
72. Susan Eyer, IBT; AlbaNew York, NY
73. Judith Ackerman, SAG, AFTRA, UFT, NYSUT, 1199SEIU/UHWE; New York, NY
74. Laura Kaplan, PSC-CUNY; New York, NY
75. Wendy Thompson, UAW L. 22; Detroit, MI
76. Desiree Fairooz, Retired IAM; Arlington, VA
77. Henry Noble, IAM L. 751; Seattle, WA
78. Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists; New Plymouth, NZ
79. Lyn Meza, Retired Vice-President, IUE-CWA L. 201; Coordinator, Chelsea Uniting Against the War, Chelsea, MA
80. Gustavo Mejias, UFT; NYC
81. Evalyn Segal, CSEA; Walnut Creek, CA
82. George X. Tomaszewski, 1st Vice President, CUPW; Scarborough, ON
83. Brian Kelly, Formerly Carpenters L. 33; IUMSWA L. 25 (Boston); Currently UCU Committee; Belfast, N. Ireland
84. Neil Mulholland, Irish Garden Workers
85. Susan Rosenthal, NWU/UAW L.1981; Toronto, ON
86. Eric Schechter, Working America; Nashville, TN
87. Mike Eilenfeldt, Delegate, NYC Central Labor Council; NYSUT AFT L. 37-901; Bronx, NY
88. Damon Christian McGee, Organizer, 1199SEIU/UHWE; New York, NY
89. Gary Lapon, NWU/UAW L. 1981; Northampton, MA
90. Dennis Laumann, UCW-CWA L. 3865; Memphis, TN
91. Warren Miner, Retired AFT; Brooklyn, NY
92. Linda Ray, San Francisco Labor Council; SEIU L. 1021; San Francisco, CA
93. Joseph Levine, Massachusetts Society of Professors; Leverett, MA
94. Stephen Durham, Retired HERE L. 6; New York, NY
95. Cindy Klumb, Shop Steward, L. 153 OPEIU; Brooklyn, NY
96. Roberta J. Silver, AFSCME DC 37 L. 2054; New York, NY
97. Dan Clawson, Board of Directors, MSP/Massachusetts Teachers Association; Amherst, MA
98. Dr. Sue Blackwell, National Executive Committee, University and College Union; Birmingham, UK
99. Manzar Foroohar, Former Chapter President, CFA, Cal Poly Chapter; San Luis Obispo, CA
100. Mary Scully, Retired IUE L. 201; McAllen, TX
101. Bryan Emmel, IBT Local 320, Corrections; Moorrhead, MN
102. Nancy Welch, Chair, Delegates Assembly, UVM United Academics AFT-AAUP; Burlington, VT
103. Joe Jamison, TWU L. 100; New York, NY
104. Sharon Post, Research Coordinator, SEIU Healthcare Illinois/Indiana; Chicago, IL
105. Amy Muldoon, CWA Local 1106; Astoria, NY
106. Doug Singsen, PSC-CUNY; Brooklyn, NY
107. John Yanno, Chapter Leader, UFT; Brooklyn, NY
108. Scott Egan, IWW; Tucson, AZ
109. Lisa North, AFT L. 2 (UFT); Brooklyn, NY
110. Chris Asch, UFT; New York, NY
111. Sarah Hughes, Vice-President, Executive Board, GEO-UAW L. 2322; Amherst, MA
112. Dave Anderson, Retired AFSCME; ColoradoWINS; Boulder, CO
113. Mike Alewitz, Artistic Director, Labor Art & Mural Project; Central CT University AAUP; United Scenic Artists 829 IATSE; New Britain, CT
114. Susan O. Morris, Health & Safety Committee & Past Officer, Executive Bd., ALAA/UAW L. 2325; Brooklyn, NY
115. Sean Petty, LUB Delegate, NYSNA; Bronx, NY
116. Ken Alper, IUE-CWA L. 201; Malden, MA
117. Leslie Cunningham, Texas State Employees Union/CWA L. 6186; Austin, TX
118. Kristin Lew, 1199SEIU/UHWE; New York, NY
119. John Harris, IBEW L. 2222; Chelsea, MA
120. Michael Sacco, Business Rep., IBEW L. 21, Chicago, IL
121. Carol Lang, Secretary/Adjunct Professor, DC 37/PSC; Bronx, NY
122. Paul Grohman, Shop Steward, CWA L. 1101; Yonkers, NY
123. Ivy R. N. Williams, SEIU L. 775NW; Seattle, WA