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. In calling for a ceasefire, U.S. unions are joining unions around the world, many of whom have also issued statements and taken action demanding an end to the violence.
When Dhananja Dassanaike, Local 1004, rose to speak in support of the resolution, “For Peace, Jobs, and a Pro-Worker Foreign Policy,” he drew specific attention to its mention of the situation faced by the Palestinian people.
“We, members of the American labor movement, mourn the loss of life in Israel and Palestine. We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel, and we call on President Joe Biden and Congress to push for an immediate ceasefire and end to the siege of Gaza. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We also condemn any hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, or anyone else.”
“We certainly don’t support any killing, whether it’s in the form of bombs, guns, starving people through blockades, or through apartheid, from any side,” says Andrew Dinkelaker, the UE’s general secretary treasurer. “U.S. military aid going in is pouring gasoline onto a fire. It encourages that there be military solutions, and military solutions will get more people killed.”
UE joins unions from around the world, including the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the Italian metalworkers’ union FIOM, and the French labor federation CGT, in condemning the most recent violent Israeli attacks on the people of Palestine.
The UE General Executive Board, meeting in Pittsburgh from June 5-8, 2018, adopted a statement condemning the killing of Palestinian protesters and attacks on the First Amendment rights of Americans to engage in peaceful protest of Israel's military policies.
This UE NEWS Feature was originally written in 2002. With President Trump's announcement this week that he intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, we are re-publishing it to give UE members and our allies important background on the Middle East. -Ed.
The Middle East, the home of ancient civilizations and holy lands — and war. The crises of the Middle East seem to defy understanding or solution.
In September I was part of a delegation of Connecticut union leaders to Palestine, at the invitation of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). Our group included State AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Olsen; State Building Trades President David Roche; Bill Shortell, political director for the International Association of Machinists Eastern States Conference; John Fussell, union attorney and former 1199 vice president; Steelworkers Union activist Anne Marie Miller; and others from the Tree of Life Educational Foundation.
On September 24 UE received something very unusual: a huge “thank you” note, signed by 41 organizations and more than 3,000 people in 54 countries (most in the U.S.), in response to a resolution passed by our convention. The “thank you” expresses appreciation for the position taken by the recent UE Convention in the resolution “Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine And Israel.”
On Tuesday, September 1, UE issued the following press release:
At its national convention in Baltimore August 16-20, the United Electrical Workers union (UE) adopted a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) to pressure Israel to end the occupation and grant Palestinians their freedom. UE is now the first national U.S. union to endorse BDS. The full resolution is below.