Labor Calls for Ceasefire in Israel and Palestine Grow

November 21, 2023

In the month since UE and UFCW Local 3000 initiated a labor call for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine, it has been signed by unions across the country, including the Chicago Teachers Union, UAW Regions 6 and 9A, SEIU-United Service Workers West (USWW), IBEW Local 520, and more. On November 8 the general officers of the American Postal Workers Union issued a statement “call[ing] on our government, which is the primary foreign benefactor of the Israeli government, to use all its power to protect innocent lives and to help bring about peace in the region, and not use our tax dollars for more war.” ILWU Local 10, whose members famously refused to unload goods shipped from apartheid South Africa in the mid-1980s, unanimously passed a resolution on November 18 demanding an immediate ceasefire.

In calling for a ceasefire, U.S. unions are joining unions around the world. On October 17 Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union and a close UE ally, issued a statement that, like the U.S. call, condemns the Hamas attack but notes that “retaliation against a Palestinian civilian population is not the answer, and must stop immediately.” UE’s close ally CSN signed onto a ceasefire statement organized by Quebec’s Center for International Worker Solidarity. They have been joined by many other Canadian unions, including the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, two of Canada’s largest unions.

UE’s close allies Zenroren (Japan), FIOM (Italy), CGT (France), CUT Brasil, Unite (Great Britain), and NTUI (India) have all been actively calling for peace and an end to the violence. Unions representing transport workers in Belgium and Barcelona, Spain have urged their members to refuse to transport weapons for Israel, and maritime unions in Australia have endorsed actions intended to achieve the same.

In addition to the unfolding humanitarian crisis, over 100,000 Palestinian workers who work in Israel have been unable to go to work since Israel closed the borders. The MAAN Workers Association, which organizes Palestinian and Israeli workers, says that “the prolonged unemployment of these workers may escalate into a severe social crisis.” They have issued a letter calling for a one-time payment to these workers, which would be deducted from their savings in the Israeli pension fund.