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Student Workers of Columbia Union Call for Solidarity Against Repression and in Defense of the Right to Protest

In response to the suspensions and arrests of students at Columbia, the Student Workers of Columbia is circulating a call for solidarity against the repression. We re-publish their statement here and urge organizations, unions, and intellectuals to sign.

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NYPD officers load Pro-Palestine protesters at Columbia onto police buses

Columbia University has become the epicenter of the repression of the movement in solidarity with Palestine with students being suspended, evicted, and arrested at the behest of the university administration. Faculty are also being disciplined These attacks at Columbia are part of a wider advance on the right to protest being overseen by university administrations, companies like Google, and the bipartisan regime. We must fight these attacks with our full force because these are not just attacks on the movement for Palestine but attacks on our basic democratic rights which will be used to curtail movements in the future. 

In response to these attacks, the Student Workers of Columbia — a local of the United Auto Workers (UAW) — has put out a call for solidarity in an attempt to build a strong democratic campaign against the repression. We repost the statement below and urge unions, organizations, intellectuals, and activists to sign the call.

Sign the statement!

Solidarity Ask From UAW 2710- Against the Repression of Protest

On April 18th, Minouche Shafik, the President of Columbia, violated university procedures and authorized the NYPD to arrest dozens of Columbia students, including members of Student Workers of Columbia— SWC-UAW 2710. The protesting students and student workers had bravely held the Gaza Solidarity Encampment on the lawn in the center of campus for two days, joined by hundreds of student and SWC picketers protecting their encampment, and a mass mobilization of other labor organizers and the community on the streets outside the campus. The encampment’s demands included that Columbia, their school and employer, divest its financial holdings from weapons manufacturers, tech companies, and any other entities that materially benefit from the Israeli occupation and genocide of Palestinians, that Columbia make its investments transparent, and that Columbia reinstate all students facing academic discipline for pro-Palestine protest over the past few months, including five students who were suspended and evicted from their Columbia-owned housing two weeks ago.

As workers, we stand in solidarity with our union siblings in SWC-UAW 2710 who were arrested and face suspension. We call for their and their classmates’ immediate reinstatement and for Columbia to drop all charges against them, both legal and academic. We deplore President Shafik’s actions and call for Columbia to immediately end the repression of protest. 

We the undersigned believe the repression and criminalization of activists, students, professors, and academic workers across the country are violations of our elementary rights to free speech and protest. If left unchecked, these attacks on academic freedom and protest against genocide will pave the way for further measures that constrain civil liberties, not only for those in universities, but for civil society at large.

The right to protest is necessary for every struggle, and the direct attack on this right is an attack on labor as well. An injury to one is an injury to all- if the Columbia students can be repressed for protesting, Columbia workers and all workers could be too. Workers stand in full solidarity with this student movement. 

Solidarity forever!

Signed,

SWC-UAW 2710

UAW Region 9A

GSOC-UAW 2110

Graduate Employees’ Organization – University of Michigan – GEO 3550 AFL-CIO

Downstate NY Starbucks Workers United

Sinai Student Workers (SSW-UAW)

UAW 4811 Santa Cruz

She Wolf Workers Union- RWDSU

UC Divest Coalition UCSC

HGSU-BDS Caucus of Rank and File Members

CUPE 3903 Palestine Solidarity Working Group

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