UE, Six Other National Unions Launch Ceasefire Effort

February 16, 2024

UE is one of seven national unions which announced the formation of the National Labor Network for Ceasefire (NLNC) today, along with over two hundred local unions. The aim of the network is to “end the death and devastation” in the Middle East, and to expand support for the ceasefire among unions nationally. 

Together, unions calling for a ceasefire represent over 9 million union members — more than half the labor movement in the United States. The NLNC launch comes on the heels of a statement calling for a ceasefire released by the AFL-CIO last week - the largest federation of unions in the United States.

“This is the biggest expression for peace by the labor movement in a full generation,” UE General President Carl Rosen told a press conference in February, as Chicago-area labor leaders successfully pressed their city council to pass a resolution in support of a ceasefire.

UE was the first national union in the U.S. to call for a ceasefire. “This was not an easy position for our union to take in October,” said Director of Organization Mark Meinster, “but it was the right one. And it shows how UE can move the rest of the labor movement.”

“That tax money could have been paying the city workers of Durham”

Rank and file UE members have been taking action for a ceasefire across the country. Members of Local 197-Teachers and Researchers United traveled to Washington, DC for a press conference in December and a national march in January, and members of Locals 667 and 696 in Pittsburgh made their voices heard at their Senators’ offices in December. Eastern Region President George Waksmunski spoke at a labor for ceasefire rally in New York City on December 21, and Western Region President Bryan Martindale and International Representative Fernando Ramirez joined a peace rally in Los Angeles on February 10.

In Durham, North Carolina, UE Local 150 has been leading a campaign to get the city to pass a ceasefire resolution. The local drafted a resolution and letter in December that was signed by around 20 community, faith and labor organizations, including the Duke Grad Student Union, Muslims for Social Justice, Pax Christi (a Catholic peace organization), and Jewish Voice for Peace.

The letter noted that “Every year, Durham residents send $4.3 million in our federal tax dollars directly to Israel’s military. This is money we need to support workers and our communities here.”

The union and their allies delivered the letter to the city council with a rally on December 18, demanding raises for city workers to $25 per hour, not money for war. Local 150 leader and Durham Public Workers department worker Donald Quick spoke at the rally and in the city council meeting.

“How can they take our tax dollars and send them somewhere to kill people?” he asked. “Let's stop this foolishness with our tax money. That tax money really could have been paying the city workers of Durham.” Local 150 leader Willie Brown also addressed the rally.