USA: Union Leaders Join Progressive Lawmakers in Demanding Gaza Cease-Fire Now


An article by Brett Wilkins in Common Dreams ( licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Leaders of major U.S labor unions joined progressive members of Congress at a Thursday rally and press conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where they implored President Joe Biden to support a cease-fire in Gaza without delay.

Leaders of unions including the United Auto Workers (UAW); the Postal Workers Union; and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America held a press conference outside the Capitol, where they were joined by Democratic U.S. lawmakers including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

“The world has seen enough slaughter and devastation. Peace is the only path forward," UAW president Shawn Fain—who recently led the fight for historic new contracts for Big Three autoworkers—told attendees. "While we call for a cease-fire, we also condemn antisemitism, Islamophobia, [and] anti-Arab racism, all of which are growing in our nation at this moment and must be stopped.”

“As union members, we know we must fight for all workers and suffering people around the world. We must fight for humanity,” he added. “That means we must restore people's basic rights and allow water, food, fuel, humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. We must also call for the release of all hostages.”

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Question related to this article:
What is the contribution of trade unions to the culture of peace?

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Bush, the lead sponsor of a congressional cease-fire resolution drafted in October, said that “as an activist and organizer and a proud daughter of a former union member, I know that the foundational message of every guild is to stand with the people, to fight for their dignity and to advocate for those most marginalized.”

“Our humanity needs a cease-fire, and that is precisely why I’m so happy to have unions here today to join in this fight,” she added, “because we know that unions know how to organize. Unions know how to mobilize and galvanize and energize.”

Thursday’s rally came as Israeli forces continued attacking Gaza by land, air, and sea. Since the October 7 Hamas-led attacks that killed more than 1,100 people in southern Israel, over 70,000 Palestinians have been killed, maimed, or left missing by Israel’s retaliatory war, which many critics have called genocidal.

Additionally, around 1.9 million Gazans—or over 85% of the besieged strip’s population—have been forcibly displaced, and hundreds of thousands of cases of infectious diseases have been reported.

While Biden this week privately decried what he acknowledged as Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza, the president remains a staunch Zionist who is seeking $14.3 billion in additional U.S. military aid to Israel atop the nearly $4 billion it already receives annually from Washington.

Tlaib, who introduced the cease-fire resolution with Bush, said, “I’m a proud daughter of a UAW worker, and I know my Yaba (father), if he was here, he would be so proud.”

“The UAW taught him he deserved human dignity, even though he only had a fourth-grade education, even though he was Palestinian, even though he was Muslim," continued Tlaib, who last month was the target of a successful House censure motion over her defense of Palestinian rights. "On that assembly line, he was equal to every single human being on that line. Who did that for him? The United Auto Workers did that for him.”

I’m so grateful for each and every one of your voices in this movement to save lives,” she added. And I’m proud to stand alongside you all. So today we raise our collective voice to say, “Enough is enough. Cease-fire now.”

(Editor’s note: One day after the above press conference, America’s largest health-care union, 1199SEIU , voted also to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.)