Grad Labor Movement stands in solidarity with Standing Rock

This summer, the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions (CGEU) made a strong commitment to the struggles for climate justice. Following our resolution, numerous grad unions across the continent have taken a clear stance in solidarity with the protesters at Standing Rock, seeking to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that will have devastating consequences for our environment and climate, and particularly for the indigenous communities. Many of our unions have also strongly rejected and denounced AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s support of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In our opposition to the DAPL, we join many unions, including the National Nurses United (NNU), the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the SEIU. (for further analysis of various unions’ positions in the struggles at Standing Rock, see the article by grad union comrade Trish Kahle at the GSU – University of Chicago.)

The grad unions that have stood in solidarity with Standing Rock so far include GSOC (NYU), GSU (University of Chicago), UAW 2322 (includes GEO at UMass Amherst), GEO (Ann Arbor), TAA (UW Madison), GEO (Urbana-Champaign), GEO (UIC), GEU/UAW 6950 (UConn), UAW 2865 (University of California), UAW 4123 (California State University),  and CUPE 3906 (McMaster University) – see our resolutions below. Water is life, no job on the dead planet! #NoDAPL


GSOC, New York University and GSU, the University of Chicago: “[we] call on the labor movement to support a just transition to a renewable energy economy and investment in the construction of a nationwide sustainable energy infrastructure that will address the growing threat of climate change and its consequent droughts, floods, fires, crop failures, species extinctions, and other dire consequences of global climate change, and furthermore urges the AFL-CIO and LiUNA to reverse their condemnable and falsely defended statements in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

UAW 2322, which includes GEO, University of Massachusetts-Amherst: “the AFL-CIO has taken a dangerous position in supporting policies that replicate the false notion that we must choose between jobs and the health of our planet, selves, families, and communities and stands with big business over the long-term interests of the global working class… [we] support the rights of our unionized and non-unionized comrades whose jobs are related to the pipeline to work in safe environments at jobs that are consistent with respect for the environment and the rights and safety of frontline communities.”

GEO, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: “The environmental and public health costs of oil pipelines are well established. American capitalism has a long history of offloading those costs, like its other environmental costs, on people of color and particularly on Indigenous nations. We do not believe that continuing this harmful and unjust practice will sustainably advance workers’ rights and interests.”

GEU/UAW 6950, University of Connecticut: “scientists have warned that in order to avoid wide-scale, catastrophic climate disruption, the vast majority of known remaining fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground.”

TAA, University of Wisconsin-Madison: “the AFL-CIO leadership has shamefully put forward a statement against our Indigenous sisters and brothers and in support of the continued construction of DAPL, and is currently facing widespread calls from constituent unions to retract this position but has not yet done so… organized labor has a responsibility to stand against injustice and in solidarity with oppressed people everywhere, in line with the principle of ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.”

GEO, University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign: “the extraction of fossil fuels, from Bakken oil in North Dakota to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in upstate New York, is leaving behind vast expanses of dead land and dead water around the globe. It is critical that we step outside our narrow interests and ask: Who will have jobs in a dead planet? In terms of fundamental needs, what is more important than clean water? As the land and water protectors of Sacred Stone camp say, “Water is Life”… The labor movement must stand in solidarity with Native struggle against extraction (and contamination) that disproportionately impacts the disenfranchised and the marginalized. We call on AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to rescind his appalling statement, and to instead stand in solidarity with the Indigenous-led movement against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

GEO, University of Illinois-Chicago: “UIC-GEO recognizes that the history of the United States is checkered, and our nation owes its success to the subjugation, genocide, and general disregard for Indigenous lives and nations. This systemic, oppressive history is rearing its ugly head with the construction of DAPL… While the DAPL might provide temporary jobs, UIC-GEO protests against these jobs. Unionism is about lifting up all of our members and respecting all communities. Job creation that is not paired with justice, empathy, respect, and sustainability is not the type of job creation that unions should promote.”

UAW 2865, University of California campuses: “The AFL-CIO’s endorsement of the pipeline represents a dangerous precedent: support for employing private security firms to attack protesters; using eminent domain to acquire farmland for private corporate benefit; and endorsing the violence of white supremacist, capitalist, settler colonial tactics in the service of toxic industries. Advocating for short-term union jobs at the cost of long-term worker exploitation while violating Indigenous rights and irrevocably damaging the environment is not in workers’ best interests.”

UAW 4123, California State University: “we see the Indigenous rights, environmental degradation, and exploitation as intertwined… we endorse the coordinated efforts rallying against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and we encourage others to join us in support of these brave and resilient protests.”

CUPE 3906 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario also passed a resolution in solidarity with the Standing Rock protesters!