December 2, 2023

Triggered by union social media posts after Hamas’s assault, 25 Jewish CUPE members allege a number of years of antisemitism by Canada’s largest union

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Jewish members of the Canadian Union of Public Staff have filed a human rights declare towards their union alleging discrimination and antisemitism, together with latest messages seen as cheering for the lethal Hamas assaults on Israel.

Though triggered by social media posts by a CUPE native and CUPE Ontario’s president Fred Hahn after the Oct. 7 Hamas assaults in Israel, the criticism to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by about 25 Jewish members of CUPE alleges antisemitic incidents spanning at the very least 5 years by Canada’s largest labour union.

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“The respondents have collectively engaged in systemic discrimination towards the complainants by selling and interesting in antisemitism,” says the criticism, filed Monday.

“This has precipitated the complainants to really feel remoted, unwelcome, scared, silenced, discriminated towards, threatened and harassed.”

Carrie Silverberg, a CUPE member from Vaughan, Ont, is without doubt one of the complainants. She resigned from the chief of CUPE Native 1734 after years of futiley combating antisemitism in her union, she stated.

“Change wasn’t coming, it was simply turning into increasingly poisonous, and I felt increasingly unsafe and fewer heard,” she stated in an interview.

“Sufficient is sufficient. This isn’t the best way I’d need to result in change. I hoped to coach, hoping to work collectively, however clearly that’s not working.

“These tweets, the day after the bloodbath and horrendous terrorist assault — for him to be celebrating the dying of Jews? I cried.”

Hahn stated the union stands by its report of combating discrimination.

“CUPE Ontario hasn’t seen the criticism and may’t converse to the allegations made. Nevertheless, our union understands the basic significance of human rights and we take these issues very severely,” he stated in an announcement to Nationwide Put up.

“We firmly imagine there was no violation of Ontario’s Human Rights Code and in any discussion board we will likely be glad to face on our report of combating discrimination and oppression in all their kinds.”

Hahn and CUPE have already confronted criticism over social media posts. Shortly after the lethal terror assaults in Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7, CUPE government members publicly expressed messages that have been seen as supporting the killing of Jewish civilians.

CUPE Native 3906, which represents educational employees at McMaster College in Hamilton, Ont., posted “Palestine is rising, lengthy stay the resistance” on social media.

A day later, Hahn, a vice-president on the nationwide CUPE board and head of CUPE in Ontario, posted that he was grateful on Thanksgiving for “the facility of resistance across the globe. As a result of resistance is fruitful and it doesn’t matter what some may say, resistance brings progress.”

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On Instagram, in keeping with the criticism, Hahn posted a picture with the phrases “From the river to the ocean, Palestine will likely be free,” which is a slogan drawn from Hamas supplies calling for the erasure of Israel.

“In posting these feedback, the respondents have been celebrating the homicide and rape of Jewish youngsters and civilians, calling it justified and selling violence and discrimination towards Jewish folks,” alleges the criticism filed with the tribunal.

After a public backlash over the social media posts, together with from federal and provincial political leaders, Hahn expressed remorse for his timing.

“Inflicting any type of ache to our members was by no means my intent, however I perceive that it has been the impression. I’m deeply sorry for this unintended consequence,” his written assertion stated.

“That was an error, and I apologize. My social media posts turned a large lightning rod for each professional anger, and likewise for dangerous religion actors with a divisive agenda.”

The McMaster CUPE native deleted its submit however stated it was not retracted, solely eliminated due to “violent messages” the union acquired, blaming “the extremely organized Zionist foyer.”

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In an announcement, CUPE 3906 executives stated they did “mourn the assaults on the sanctity of human life and indiscriminate killing of civilians” however stood by its authentic message.

“The voices of Palestinian college students, school, politicians, and their allies are focused in every single place by the extremely organized Zionist foyer in Canada, its targets inclusive now of CUPE 3906 and the President of CUPE Ontario.”

The criticism says the social media posts are usually not remoted incidents however a part of “an extended sample of discrimination towards Jewish union members.”

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The human rights criticism claims CUPE condones and encourages antisemitism and discrimination towards Jewish members and intentionally excludes schooling about antisemitism in CUPE insurance policies or paperwork, regardless of requires inclusion.

Based on the declare, Hahn instructed Jewish members “he doesn’t imagine that Jewish folks ought to stay in Israel and that Jewish folks ‘stole’ the land from Palestinians.”

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The declare complains of a number of CUPE resolutions, equivalent to one in 2018 which stated Israel was “illegally” occupying Palestine, a 2021 decision to oppose the Worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, and a 2023 “emergency decision” to conduct member schooling concerning the historical past of Israel’s “occupation and colonization” of Palestine.

The criticism says CUPE produced and distributed infographics claiming Israel is “ethnically cleaning” the Palestinian folks.

It additionally says the union silenced Jewish members. The digital camera and microphone of a Jewish delegate at a CUPE Ontario digital conference was reduce off as a result of she was carrying a shirt supporting the Israel Protection Forces when different members have been allowed to lift Free Palestine flags on their screens as they spoke.

Additional, the declare says CUPE hosted union occasions throughout Yom Kippur, essentially the most holy day within the Jewish calendar. Silverberg stated this tremendously diminished the power of Jewish members to take part.

“I’m a member in good standing and I’ve no voice,” Silverberg stated.

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The criticism claims CUPE violates Part 6 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which says everybody has a proper to equal remedy in a commerce union with out discrimination based mostly on race, ancestry, native land, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, intercourse, sexual orientation, age, marital standing, household standing or incapacity.

The declare seeks $500,000 in compensation for ache and struggling and an order permitting members to re-direct their union dues to a Jewish charity.

Different treatments sought embrace orders for the union to cease participating in discrimination and hate in direction of Jewish members, to create inside insurance policies to fight antisemitism, and for union leaders to attend academic seminars about antisemitism.

Kathryn Marshall, a lawyer with Levitt Sheikh LLP who’s representing the CUPE members within the criticism, stated she expects the variety of complainants to develop.

She stated they heard from different CUPE members who wished to hitch however have been hesitant and frightened.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is much like a courtroom and is empowered to resolve claims of discrimination and harassment.

CUPE is Canada’s largest labour union, with 740,000 members in well being care, emergency providers, schooling, municipalities, social providers, utilities, transportation and different sectors.

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