On November 15, three FBI agents came to the Chicago home of an international solidarity
Resolution of Golden Gate Branch 214, Letter Carriers Union – Adopted unanimously Nov. 3, 2010
Whereas, on September 24, 2010, the FBI raided the homes and offices of anti-war and trade union activists in Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan, confiscating computers, mailing lists, cell phones, passports, political literature and children’s drawings; and served subpoenas to 14 people to testify before a federal grand jury about their anti-war and international solidarity activities – part of an alarming trend to criminalize dissent in the United States; and
Whereas, 10 of the 14 people subpoenaed are union members with a long history of activism and leadership within their unions and local labor communities; and
Whereas, labor is speaking out against these attacks on civil liberties. The AFSCME Council 5 convention, representing 46,000 public employees in Minnesota, passed a resolution noting “the recent FBI raids are reminiscent of the Palmer Raids of the 1920’s, the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, and the FBI’s harassment of the civil rights movement, and our grave concern that these raids be the beginning of a new and dangerous assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, international solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner.” Central labor councils in San Francisco, Duluth, San Jose, and Troy, New York have passed resolutions condemning the raids, as have a number of large locals of AFSCME, Teamsters and Teachers;
Whereas, four days before the September 24 raids, the Office of the Inspector General of the United States revealed that the FBI systematically and wrongly spied on peace groups including Greenpeace and the Thomas Merton Center from 2002-06 – frequently confusing civil disobedience with “domestic terrorism.” In 2008, according to a 300-page report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI trailed students in Iowa City to parks, libraries, bars and restaurants, and went through their trash; and
Whereas, on June 20, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling [in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project] interpreting a provision of the USA Patriot Act so broadly as to outlaw legitimate humanitarian work, journalism and international solidarity, with grave implications for the rights of labor unions; and
Whereas, from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) fight for free speech in the 1910s to the major labor-inspired civil liberties court decisions of the 1930s, the labor movement has often been in the forefront of defending the right to speak out and protest. Trade unionists understood that without the ability to speak out, union efforts would be crushed, and that the fight for civil liberties went hand in hand with the fight for workers’ rights.
Therefore be it resolved, that Golden Gate Branch 214 NALC goes on record as expressing grave concern that the recent FBI raids and grand jury investigation are reminiscent of the Palmer Raids of the 1920’s, the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, and the FBI’s harassment of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, and denounces these raids as marking the beginning of a new and dangerous assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, civil rights or international solidarity activist, or anti-war campaigner; and
Be it further resolved, that NALC #214 demands: 1) Stop the repression against labor, peace and solidarity activists who are exercising their First Amendment right to speak out and dissent; 2) End the Grand Jury proceedings, FBI raids, “fishing expeditions” and other attempts to intimidate and disrupt grassroots social movements; and 3) Return confiscated material. Finally, that the branch will submit this resolution to National Association of Letter Carriers headquarters for concurrence and action.
Adopted unanimously Nov. 3, 2010 in San Francisco, CA by the regular delegates meeting of Golden Gate Branch 214, representing 2,500 letter carriers in the San Francisco Bay Area.