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Rank-and-File Union Labor Support Grows for Ceasefire in Israel-Palestine War

On December 1st, the United Auto Workers (UAW) called for an “immediate, permanent ceasefire” between Israel and Palestine. With over 400,000 active members, this makes them the largest union yet to advocate for such an action. Previously, the 200,000 strong American Postal Workers Union (APWU) had been the largest union to issue such a statement on November 8th, indicating a snowball-effect regarding organized labor’s response to the current conflict.

They are joining the ranks of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 3000, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 520, San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel Local 67, the Oakland Education Association, Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition – American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 6403, National Nurses United, UNITED HERE Local 23, Teamsters Local 804, Roofers Local 36, among countless others.

There are statements from organized labor in support of Israel; most notably the AFL-CIO claiming, “the labor movement condemns and stands resolute against all terrorism,” as well as AFT’s president repeating that Israel has a right to defend itself. These statements also iterate concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but neglect to mention ceasefire as an option to resolve the issue. While all the mentioned statements condemn the actions of Hamas on October 7th, it’s the rank-and-file unions that are simultaneously condemning the over 10,000 Palestinian civilian casualties caused by Israel’s bombardment campaign, as well as acknowledging the century long colonization and occupation of Palestinian land.

Regarding Palestinian trade unions themselves, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions Gaza (PGFTU) issued a statement on October 16th calling for the halting of arms trade to Israel as well as the following list of demands:

  1. To refuse to build weapons destined for Israel.
  2. To refuse to transport weapons to Israel.
  3. To pass motions in their trade union to this effect.
  4. To take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege, especially if they have contracts with your institution.
  5. Pressure governments to stop all military trade with Israel, and in the case of the US, funding to it.

These demands have likely inspired the dock workers both in Belgium and Barcelona to refuse to load arms shipments headed for Israel but has yet to inspire such direct action in the United States. There have been shipments delayed by protesters in Tacoma, WA and Oakland, CA in November, but the dockworkers union has yet to issue a statement concerning the demonstration or the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The momentum for collective action to end the genocide in Gaza is growing. More and more workers are realizing their power and responsibility to act on this international political issue. As class consciousness grows, the working-class needs to take matters in their own hands to stop the war machine from ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people from their native home once and for all.

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