Unions Stand in Solidarity with Campus Protesters

May 20, 2024

Demand Their Rights to Protest and Free Speech Be Respected

Unions representing over one million workers released a statement today in support of campus protesters at colleges and universities across the country.  

The unions are members of the National Labor Network for Ceasefire (NLNC), which has been outspoken for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, restoration of basic human rights, immediate release of the hostages, unimpeded full access for humanitarian aid, and our president calling for a permanent ceasefire.

The six national and four local unions, some of whom represent faculty, student, and other campus workers, are stepping forward because they recognize the risk of suppressing free speech — employers have been trying to suppress workers demanding their rights for centuries. When some campuses began enlisting police to beat and arrest protesters to silence them, the already unacceptable crackdowns across the country went too far. 

Here is the full statement:

Unions Stand in Solidarity with Campus Protesters, Demand Their Rights to Protest and Free Speech Be Respected

Our unions, representing over one million union members, stand in solidarity with those students, faculty and other academic workers across the United States who have faced a repressive and violent crackdown of their protests of the war in Gaza. We demand that campus administrators cease their campaign of threats, suspensions and expulsions against peaceful protestors and cease using law enforcement agencies to disrupt and attack them. 

Our unions are all members of the National Labor Network for Ceasefire, united by our shared call for a ceasefire in Gaza, the safe return of hostages, and safe passage for urgently needed humanitarian aid to those displaced, starved and injured by Israel’s campaign in Gaza. We see our demands broadly reflected in the campus protests.

Moreover, as trade unionists, we can never support efforts to repress, intimidate or deploy state-sanctioned violence against those exercising their democratic rights of free speech and who protest, strike, or demand justice.

The repressive response of certain university administrators and local police to these protests is also a labor rights issue. Faculty, student workers, and other campus workers – many of whom belong to our unions – are among those who have been arrested and forcibly removed from the protests or suspended from their work. University staff have been ordered to clear protests led by students, their fellow workers and union members. Academic freedom, free speech, the right to assemble, and the right to protest are fundamental rights and they must be respected on campuses and across the country.

The time for peace is now. We stand in solidarity with the protesters.

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (1199SEIU)
American Postal Workers Union (APWU)
Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA)
Chicago Teachers Union Local 1 (CTU-1)
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT)
National Nurses United (NNU)
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania (SEIUHCPA)
United Auto Workers (UAW)
United Electrical Workers Union (UE)
United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 3000 (UFCW 3000)