Published: September 12, 2016

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota has a right to protect their culture and safeguard natural resources essential to their community, the SEIU 503, OPEU, Board of Directors said today in a resolution supporting the tribe’s fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The oil pipeline would cross the Missouri River, jeopardizing the tribe’s drinking water source.

The resolution adopted by the Board, representing 55,0000 Oregon workers, states “SEIU 503 supports the right, need and efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux, as well as all indigenous people, to protect their ceremonial and cultural sites and safeguard resources valuable and essential to their communities and people such as water, air, soil and other natural resources. The protection of these resources is to the benefit of all people. SEIU 503 calls on all corporations and businesses, and all levels of governments, to recognize and honor these rights.” The Board also approved $1503 to support the tribe’s protest encampment.

SEIU 503 member Laura John, who co-wrote the resolution, just returned from Standing Rock in support of the action to protect the tribe’s ceremonial lands and the access to safe drinking water. She called the situation a clear case of environmental racism and a threat against part of the tribe’s cultural that can never be replaced. The protest, John said, is the start of a renaissance of tribal people standing up for their rights. Supporting this fight is continuing this solidarity and continuing the fight for what is right. All people, she said, care about protecting waterways and not allowing corporations to desecrate historical and cultural sites.

SEIU 503 Board member Kim Cole added, “This is another extreme and stark case of corporate greed directly attacking the dignity, wellbeing, and very lives of working people. SEIU 503 members are proud to join the Standing Rock Tribe on the frontline of the fight against corporate greed at the expense of an entire people and culture.”

SEIU 503 is a union of 55,000 public workers, care providers, and nonprofit employees in Oregon. We envision a just and vibrant society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and where all workers can provide for themselves and their families.