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Here’s How One Of America’s Most Powerful Unions Turned On Israel


College campuses across the country are overrun with anti-Israel — and often antisemitic — protests. Students at these “elite” schools have formed encampments, damaged school property, and derailed academic calendars in their rage against Israel. The United Auto Workers (UAW) is one of their most vocal allies.

What does Gaza have to do with autoworkers? The answer is exactly what you might suspect — absolutely nothing.

These protests are not being carried out by autoworkers. Instead, the UAW’s army of coastal elite graduate school students are leading the charge against Israel. It’s hard to imagine a group more disconnected from actual autoworkers, many of whom UAW President Shawn Fain is looking to organize.

How did a union whose roots started in representing factory workers make such inroads in academia? It was out of necessity. The UAW’s membership has been declining for years, recently reaching its lowest level since the Great Recession. As unionized auto jobs plummeted, the UAW did what any traveling snake oil salesman would do: Instead of improving its product, the union found a new group of customers.

Now, over 100,000 of the UAW’s current active membership are graduate students and academic workers. As membership shifts away from the factory floor and closer to the faculty lounge, the union’s priorities seem to have shifted along with them.

These changing priorities are best shown by the career of Brandon Mancilla, director of UAW Region 9A, which promoted a recent anti-Israel rally at New York University. The protest included calls for an “intifada,” and chants of the well-known anti-Israel slogan “from the river to the sea.” The rally was also promoted by the UAW’s national leadership.

Mancilla is not an autoworker. He joined the union through the UAW local representing Harvard’s graduate student workers. After graduating, he worked for UAW local 2325 — which represents lawyers, not auto workers — before being elected to represent Region 9A.

NYU is hardly alone. UAW-represented student workers were among those at the tent encampment at Columbia. UAW local 4811, which represents student workers at the University of California, even threatened a strike over the school’s rejection of the union-led anti-Israel protests.

Nationally, the UAW has declared its support for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, even appearing at press conferences with controversial anti-Israel politicians like Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, where Shawn Fain said he was “proud” to stand with them.

Fain recently took to social media to issue a statement defending the campus protests against Israel shortly after police cleared out the occupation of a Columbia University building. This statement was even reposted on the UAW’s official website. Notably, the site does not feature a statement condemning the original Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attack which killed over 1,000 Israelis.

Radical student groups seem to be the UAW’s flavor of the month. But Fain continues his crusade to organize autoworkers in the historically anti-union South. Workers who live in the real world — rather than in ivory towers — should be able to see right through him and his union’s antics.

Charlyce Bozzello is the communications director at the Center for Union Facts.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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