Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Rank-and-file unionists protest for Palestine at VP’s speech to SEIU convention

By staff

Pro-Palestine workers pose after disrupting Kamala Harris's speech.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Philadelphia, PA – During the North American SEIU convention on May 21, around 50 union members and staff led a walkout against Vice President Kamala Harris. The International hosted around 4000 people including delegates, guests and staff.

About ten minutes into Harris’ speech, about 50 delegates, guests and staff stood up and started chanting “Free Palestine!” Harris paused and stuttered for a moment, and some delegates broke out into “Four more years.” Protesters soon overshadowed them. They walked to the entrance and pulled out hidden cloth signs, reading “Workers of the world unite” and “Free Gaza.” They chanted “Harris, Harris you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” and sang the union anthem Which side are you on? .

Chants continued for five minutes during the Harris speech. Members left singing Solidarity Forever before joining a rally outside.

“As members of Starbucks Workers United, we have made our stance on Palestine clear, and we did not feel comfortable sitting through a speech from the current administration. Kamala and Biden are directly responsible for the deaths of over 35,000 people, this is an emergency, and working people have a responsibility, and power, to make sure not a single cent more goes to genocide,” said Abbey Lodwig, a SBWU organizer and member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

“As a collective, we passed a resolution essentially saying, ‘No to genocide,’ but our union continues to endorse an administration, with $200 million, that has denied the existence of the genocide and continues to provide arms money to Israel. It is hypocritical,” said a delegate with the committee of interns and residents.

On Monday, a resolution was passed in support of Palestine, but some felt it did not go far enough.

Local 1000 member Sam Lieu, who helped organize the interruption of Harris, stated, “The principled and accurate resolution on Palestine submitted by SEIU Local 1021 was blocked by the ossified IU leadership and a watered down version was adopted through less than democratic means on May 20, 2024. A small but class-conscious group of delegates and attendees met afterwards to organize a demonstration that not only spoke to the inefficient resolution but also to heighten the contradiction of the IU adopting a resolution on Palestine and then the very next day to invite Genocide Joe’s second-in-command to speak to the delegation.”

#PhiladelphiaPA #PA #Labor #Biden #Harris #AntiWarMovement #Palestine #SEIU #SBWU #Feature