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Open Letter to UPTE

by Elizabeth Milos
Open letter to UPTE union leadership from UPTE member and candidate denouncing UPTE president Dan Russell for suppressing Resolution in Solidarity with Palestine and for not calling for a CEASEFIRE.
I waited this long to write this because I really thought that UPTE leadership and specifically Dan Russell would finally step up to the plate and put out a statement demanding a CEASE FIRE in Gaza.

With 11,000 people dead (4,000 children) including hundreds of healthcare professionals, and clear war crimes violations by Israel (such as bombing hospitals and targeting civilians. I thought that someone within our leadership would have the courage to stand by our Resolution in Solidarity with Palestine passed by our E-Board on June 2, 2021.

This resolution proved that all of the demands were and are correct and aligned politically with the youth of this world and in UC that understand the importance of fighting settler colonialism, racism, Fascism and Zionism. The Resolution demands an end to US aid to Israel, to break our relations with the segregationist trade association, Histradut, and shows our support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. It was wiped off of our website more than a year ago by Dan Russell. Despite many emails, he refused to put it back up.

That is an act of political cowardice that should make all our members take notice.

Genocide is Genocide and there is no doubt that this is what is happening in Gaza right now, with our tax money.

Every 15-year-old in Gaza has undergone SIX extended bombings during their entire lives: entire family members, their homes, neighborhoods, the electric plants, sewage facilities, water treatment plants, their school classmates, their schools, their hospitals, their mosques, and churches have been completely decimated. 2.3 million people have been held under siege for 17 years where only Israel decides what, if anything, goes in/out. Under all definitions, they are also being held hostage by the Israeli imposed and illegal siege, as are the 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners that are judged if at all by a separate and not equal military judicial system under Apartheid.

There is a new category created by humanitarian organizations in Gaza: WCNSF Wounded Child, No Surviving Family. That is, if the child is “lucky” enough to survive. Entire Palestinian family registries have been erased from this earth by US bombs.

What will it take for UPTE to stand up with the rest of the youth, and the emerging labor movement this country and around the world and demand a CEASE FIRE, and END to US AID to an Apartheid regime? How many more lives will it take for our leadership to put out a statement? So far, CNA, UAW, SEIU and many other unions have stepped up. Medical students, residents, interns, doctors, faculty, researchers, and staff have been protesting at UCs statewide demanding a ceasefire. But UPTE has been silent.

As a former member of San Francisco Labor Council, I joined 25 other delegates to present a resolution on Palestine in 2021 but we were blocked by AIPAC supporters and by the AFL-CIO national leadership.

UPTE local 7 Executive Board (who are now part of the Executive Committee), succumbed to the pressure by the Director and President of the Labor Council to remove me as delegate, in part because of my support for Palestine, the resolution that we passed against the privatization of Laguna Honda, and my support for the Longshoreman fight against the destruction of Howard terminal while the Labor Councils support the construction of the As stadium and Billionaire Don Fisher’s plan to buy waterfront property for luxury condos. The last straw was when I brought a resolution for Mumia Abu Jamal and the Labor Council refused to support it. AIPAC supporter, Olga Miranda from SEIU Local 87 (with a documented history of bullying people) tried to bully me into submission and I didn’t tolerate it.

At our CWA convention in October of 2021, Dan tried to convince me to remove our Palestine solidarity resolution and I realized that he had been able to convince the entire UPTE delegation to not even give a SECOND to the Palestine Resolution motion.

I ran for President of this union to present a protest vote to let our members know what is actually going on.

I once supported this leadership because I felt that younger people would be more open to union democracy and show more courage in confronting UC and its powerful corporate interests, but I found that this leadership is much more hierarchal than our previous one and unfortunately cowardly too.

Dan doesn’t want to hear from the members who disagree with him, and he made sure that only those who support him unconditionally would be delegates to the last UPTE convention. He also was able to ensure the same at the CWA convention by reducing the number of delegates to 9 delegates from a previous 24, leaving out many voices including mine.

Changing a union’s constitution should be done with the input of all of its members at each local with constitution committees. None of that happened. It was an ambush at the convention itself.

Dan has been able to convince people that spending money without Executive Board approval is okay.
The change to the constitution that Dan pushed for has destroyed the member-driven history and identity of this union:
1. It left an entire unit without UPTE representation.
2. removed the Retiree representative from the Executive Board.
3. turned UPTE into a top-down structure like AFSCME with staff taking the lead instead of members. (staff are employees therefore much more reluctant to question the president.)
4. turned our bargaining committee into one that is only responsive to the President.
5. Turned our locals into chapters with no relative autonomy in budgets or priorities and no Executive boards

Incidentally, Dan, is on CWA trial for spending UPTE money without prior Board approval and now it seems he is also using UPTE money to pay for his lawyer too. But if I tell you that, will he be seen as a victim by his supporters?

Probably. Like he did the last time he was on trial and I served on the jury and demanded very strict adherence to evidence as I would do for anyone on trial.

He has even violated election rules by using the main UPTE website as a de-facto election campaign site with this image prominently displayed throughout this entire election.

I think members who know me also know that I don’t ever support anyone unconditionally and I always try to be fair in my judgements.

But the silence of UPTE in front of Genocide is utterly devastating and shameful.
We should all be ashamed that we allowed and are allowing this person to lead our union into insignificance, betraying its humanitarian values of democratic governance and solidarity.
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