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Berkeley Federation of Teachers Resolution in Support of Resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline

Whereas there is incontrovertible evidence that fossil fuel extraction and use is the main cause of global warming, which is an existential threat to humanity

Whereas we Americans are painfully aware of the history of Native American dispossession and broken treaties, leaving native people in often impoverished reservations which have become prey to extractive industries, allowing only short-term profit but long term destruction to these areas

Whereas recent statements by other unionists and the president of the AFL-CIO, of which the AFT is a part, have mislabeled protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) “environmental extremists” and “professional agitators” who “hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay.”

Whereas these union leaders have also mischaracterized such pipeline jobs as “quality jobs,” when in fact they are temporary, unsustainable and highly dangerous and often deadly.

Whereas in fact the growth of the fossil fuel industry is incompatible with good union jobs, and more generally, there are no jobs on a dead planet.

Whereas we teachers of young people are interested in them achieving economic independence, being engaged with the wider world, and making sure they have a viable planet to live on and enjoy

Whereas our own earned money, in the form of contributions to the California Teachers Retirement System (CALSTRS), is being invested in and thus supporting fossil fuel and extractive industries, and that teachers in California and across the US have been pressuring their retirement funds to divest from these industries

Whereas more than a dozen other unions and labor organizations, including our own Alameda Labor Council and our sister local AFT 2121 in San Francisco have passed resolutions or offered support to the protest at Standing Rock

Therefore, be it resolved:

That the Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the coalition of Native leaders and activists defending their cultural heritage, sacred grounds, right to protest, sovereign rights and right to clean water.

That the BFT call on the AFL-CIO to reverse its support of the Dakota Access Pipeline, reject the false “jobs vs. planet” paradigm, and advocate for real, sustainable and safe jobs that are compatible with the survival of all life on earth

That the BFT call on the leadership of our state level organization, the California Federation of Teachers, and the directors of CALSTRS to heed the growing demand to divest our hard-earned pension money from any fossil fuel or extractive industries

That the BFT make a $500 donation to send a member to the frontline of the protest in North Dakota, or to contribute to their legal defense fund.


Passed by the BFT Executive Board

November 17, 2016