We, UAW Local 2865 and individual members of other education worker unions, recognize the authority of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation in calling for an immediate and permanent end to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. We further call upon the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to rescind its support of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, and by extension, the private owners of Dakota Access, LLC and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, LLC.
We extend our support to the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota nations, as well as other allied Indigenous groups, in their struggle and express our commitment to #StandwithStandingRock. AFL-CIO’s support of the pipeline represents a direct endorsement of militarized state repression and corporate greed, which work to extend settler colonialism and Native genocide into the twenty-first century in direct contradiction to workers’ rights and interests, as well as the fundamental human right of access to clean, unpolluted, and publicly stewarded water sources.
Background, History, and Justification
The Dakota Access Pipeline represents a continuation of settler colonial practices and the corporate appropriation and exploitation of Indigenous land and resources.
Throughout the history of the United States, settler colonial capitalist development has framed Indigenous sovereignty as contrary to workers’ rights and environmental justice, leading to competition and mutual exploitation where there should be solidarity.
There is strong evidence that suggests that the pipeline will produce detrimental impacts on the water supply and health of the land, and it will pose serious threats to human and non-human users of this water supply. To date, as noted in a recent statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the corporations behind the pipeline’s construction have not sufficiently researched or considered these impacts.
The AFL-CIO’s endorsement of the pipeline represents a dangerous precedent: support for employing private security firms to attack protesters; using eminent domain to acquire farmland for private corporate benefit; and endorsing the violence of white supremacist, capitalist, settler colonial tactics in the service of toxic industries. Advocating for short-term union jobs at the cost of long-term worker exploitation while violating Indigenous rights and irrevocably damaging the environment is not in workers’ best interests.
In addition to standing in solidarity with the Lakota Nation, we are calling on our peers and colleagues in other Federations to speak out and bring visibility to this issue. All of us who are part of the community should use our voices to protect, support, and empower others, including those who are working to sustain worldviews, beliefs, and cultures that are frequently disregarded in mainstream narratives.
We, the members of UAW Local 2865 and individual members of other education unions of the University of California system, unequivocally affirm our support of the protectors at Standing Rock and encourage all rank and file members of the labor movement to show solidarity at this crucial time with Indigenous communities resisting settler colonialism.
UAW Local 2865 Joint Council