Local 1998 Executive Statement: The Protest Encampment and End the Supply of Arms to Israel

The Executive Committee of USW Local 1998 restates its call for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza and the immediate and the safe return of all hostages and civilians being held in detention without charge. The Executive Committee also restates its condemnation of all forms of racism, including anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic and antisemitic acts. 
The Executive Committee stands in support of the statement recently adopted by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council in which, in response to the Israeli state’s continued mass killing of Palestinian people, including approximately 23,000 women and children as of April 30, 2024, the Labour Council called for an end of indirect and direct shipments of all arms, including those from Canada, that facilitate the Israeli state’s offensive against the people of Gaza.
In October 2023, the Executive Committee co-signed, with a number of University of Toronto unions and associations, a statement in support of academic freedom for the U of T community. Building on that position, the Executive Committee states its support for peaceful protest in general and its support specifically for the members of the U of T community who are taking part in the King’s College Circle (otherwise known as the People’s Circle for Palestine) encampment protest which demands that, 1) the university administration divulge its monetary investments in businesses that are supporting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land and their continued slaughter of Palestinian civilians, 2) the administration end those investments and 3) the administration end it association with Israeli universities that support the occupation of, and the attack on, Palestine. 
The Executive Committee recognizes that there are times when civil disobedience is needed in the fight for justice, as was the case in the global campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. The Executive Committee rejects the University’s weaponization of property rights in its effort to discredit the King’s College Circle protesters’ goals and actions. The Union supports its members’ right to peaceful protest. If the University issues discipline to a member in response to the member’s support of, or participation in, the encampment protest based on the terms and conditions of a collective agreement or any University rule or policy, the Union can support and represent them.
We are seeing examples at other Universities where management has chosen to engage in meaningful dialogue with the leadership of encampment protests. We encourage the University of Toronto to follow this example instead of relying on threats against the participants in the King’s College Circle encampment protest.

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