October 20, 2010

AFT 1493 Resolution - FBI Raids on Trade Union, Anti-War and Solidarity Activists

The following solidarity statement was passed by the Executive Committee of American Federation of Teachers Local 1493 (San Mateo County Community College District faculty) on October 13th.

AFT 1493 Executive Committee Resolution – October 13, 2010
FBI Raids on Trade Union, Anti-War and Solidarity Activists

Whereas, early morning September 24 in coordinated raids, FBI agents entered seven homes of anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago, confiscating crates full of computers, books, documents, notebooks, cell phones, passports, children’s drawings, photos of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, videos and personal belongings. The FBI also raided offices of the Twin Cities Anti-war Committee, seizing computers; handed out subpoenas to testify before a federal Grand Jury to 11 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan; and paid visits and phone calls to others in Wisconsin, California and North Carolina; and

Whereas, many of those targeted are trade union activists.  One target of the raid was the home of 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. Another target of the raids was the home of Steff Yorek, steward for AFSCME Local 3800 in Minneapolis representing employees at the University of Minnesota.  Both have been subpoenaed to appear before a Federal Grand Jury.  In addition AFT 1943 Executive Committee member Masao Suzuki was visited by the FBI; and

Whereas, the majority of those targeted by the FBI raids had participated in anti-war protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul MN, which resulted in hundreds of beatings and arrests [with almost all charges subsequently dropped]. Many of those targeted in the 9/24 raids were involved in humanitarian solidarity work with labor and popular movements in Colombia – “the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist” – whose government has been condemned by the AFL-CIO and internationally for the systematic assassination of hundreds of trade unionists; and

Whereas, the FBI has a long history of violating peoples’ human and civil rights.  In the days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, the FBI and other government agents rounded up hundreds of Japanese immigrants who were held in Department of Justice prison camps without trial.  During the 1960s the FBI COINTELPRO spied on and harassed civil rights and anti-war activists, including the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The FBI has also been spying on and harassing Arab American and American Muslims since 9/11 with new powers under the USA Patriot Act.  The raids came only 4 days after a scathing report by the Department of Justice Inspector General that soundly criticized the FBI for targeting domestic groups such as Greenpeace and the Thomas Merton Center from 2002-06.

Therefore be it resolved, that the AFT Local 1493 supports the following demands:
1.      Stop the repression against trade union, anti-war 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, anti-war and international solidarity activists;

And be it further resolved, that the AFT Local 1493 Executive Committee participate in the ongoing movement to defend our civil rights and civil liberties from FBI infringement; forward this resolution to San Mateo County labor council and the California Federation of Teachers;  and call on these organizations at all levels to similarly oppose the witch hunt.