Background

In the January 2017 General Membership Meeting, members proposed a referendum vote on new policy to be added to the TSSU bylaws and policies that would require the TSSU join the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction campaign against the state of Israel. As per the bylaws, the presented motion was voted at the following General Membership Meeting and passed, with 2 opposed. The motion sets out that an all-member electronic referendum shall be held from May 15-19, 2017.

Timeline

  • August, 2016: the Coalition of Graduate Employees Union (CGEU) issues a call for member unions to support the BDS movement
  • September, 2016: TSSU members report back to the General Membership on the CGEU conference and BDS callout
  • October, 2016: working group of the Solidarity and Social Justice Committee forms to investigate BDS
  • January, 2017: Referendum question presented to the General Membership Meeting
  • February, 2017: Membership votes to hold the referendum
  • March-May, 2017: outreach campaign
  • May 15-19, 2017: online electronic vote for all members

Background Reading

Discussion and Outreach Opportunities

  • Panel: March 30th, 2017, 5 – 7 PM in Saywell Hall, 10041. If you’d like to be involved please email ssjc@tssu.ca.
  • In your department: members of the Solidarity and Social Justice Committee are available to hold discussions with TSSU members in your department. To arrange for a discussion please email ssjc@tssu.ca
  • Around campus: if you would like to visit other departments to discuss the upcoming vote, please email ssjc@tssu.ca
  • Member discussion: at the beginning of the summer semester and before the referendum, a forum for members to meet and discuss the referendum

Information Provided by Non-members

Some non-members have requested that the information below be posted and available to TSSU members. This information has not been vetted by TSSU and is provided in the interest of maintaining the maximum amount of transparency for our members. For more information please contact ssjc@tssu.ca.

Motion & Policy Wording

BIRT TSSU hold a whole-membership referendum by electronic ballot during May 15 -19, 2017 on whether to insert the following policy into its Bylaws and Policies:

TSSU Policy on Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS)

Background:

In Summer 2005, members of the Palestinian civil society called for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel until it “meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands captured in 1967 and dismantling the Wall,
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194″.

In Spring 2017, TSSU members voted in a whole-membership referendum by electronic ballot to add a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Policy to the TSSU Bylaws.

Policy:

TSSU supports the goal of the BDS movement that Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

  1. ending the colonization and occupation of Palestinian land captured in 1967 and dismantling the Wall,
  2. recognizing the fundamental right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and
  3. respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated by UN resolution 194.

To achieve these goals, TSSU shall take the following actions:

  • Boycott Israeli products, products produced by companies involved in the violation of Palestinian Human Rights, as well as complicit sporting, cultural and academic institutions.
  • Divest from any Israeli or non-Israeli company, bank, fund, university or any institution participating in the oppression of Palestinians
    Urge the Canadian government to enact Sanctions against Israel and fulfill its legal obligation to hold Israel accountable to its violations of international law.
  • TSSU will call on Simon Fraser University, campus student societies and the labour movement to take equivalent actions to support the BDS Movement.

This policy shall remain in effect until the three goals of the BDS movement are met.

FAQ on Referendum Question

Why is TSSU focusing solely on Israel? Aren’t you discriminating against Israel? The BDS campaign makes it appear as though Israel is solely responsible for the conflict.

  • TSSU has passed countless political motions through its Solidarity and Social Justice Committee (formerly Social Justice Committee), Executive Committee, and as a General Membership. TSSU is committed to social movement unionism, and the BDS campaign is non-violent way to put pressure on the Israeli state to change its policies toward the Palestinian people and the occupied Palestinian territory to conform with international law. The BDS campaign, moreover, does not seek to redress anything other than that which is stated in its goals: (1) ending the colonization and occupation of Palestinian land captured in 1967 and dismantling the Wall; (2) recognizing the fundamental right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated by UN resolution 194. It does not, therefore, refer to the entire conflict.

Why is TSSU interested in international issues instead of those closer to home?

  • TSSU has always been an internationally focused union. Among other things, we’ve supported campaigns for gender equality in Latin American trade unionism, condemned the rank anti-unionism of Scott Walker (Governor of Wisconsin), and helped to support girls’ schools in Africa. We’ve also supported campaigns closer to home, like anti-pipeline protests, the Unist’ot’en camp, and a local bookstore. Injustice is not particular to the lower mainland, and we’re proud to be committed to social justice locally and internationally.

Will a successful BDS vote limit the scope of institutions our members can interact with?

  • No. The vote is institutional and refers only to actions of TSSU as an institution (the union [and not individual members] boycotting Israeli products). Members are free to do as they wish.