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31 Okt 2023

Keith Brower Brown, Caitlyn Clark, Labor Notes

USA: Union voices call for a ceasefire in OPT/Israel amid alleged union-busting attempts and internal disagreements

"Despite Intimidation, Union Voices Get Louder for Ceasefire in Gaza"


After publishing and signing a letter of prominent artists and critics for a ceasefire, to stop an “escalating genocide,” Artforum Editor-in-Chief David Velasco was fired after 18 years at the magazine and six in that role. Three other editors resigned from the high-profile magazine in protest.

The National Writers Union is documenting such cases—both to connect writers with individual support, and to push for industry-wide reforms...

In Olympia, Washington, the Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council voted unanimously for a resolution against “any union involvement in the production or transportation of weapons destined for Israel,” and called for “our parent federation [the AFL-CIO] to also publicly support an immediate ceasefire and equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis.”

A library worker and delegate who co-wrote and organized for the resolution, who asked to be identified as Alice, said the demands were “inspired by the call from Palestinian unions to unions around the world” to stop labor from backing the assault on Gaza. A group of delegates has started researching connections between local unions and the Israeli military, particularly in nearby ports.

The national AFL-CIO pushed back. On Monday, a field rep emailed council officers saying “your resolution goes beyond the position that the AFL-CIO has taken. Please let me know if you intend to retract the resolution.” Alice said she was told not to talk to the press.

By the end of the week, the Council president yielded to the push from the national office, and posts about the resolution were taken down.

“It’s just unbelievable to me that they would pressure us like this,” Alice said. “Local labor councils and unions speaking up is how we show the leadership where the rank and file is at.” A few Thurston-Lewis-Mason delegates have been asking other regional councils and union locals to pass resolutions standing with them...

In the past week 27,000 labor activists have signed a letter calling on top U.S. union leaders to “break your silence” and push for a ceasefire.

The national AFL-CIO statement from October 11 closed with a call “to end the bloodshed of innocent civilians, and to promote a just and long-lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The New York Times reported on October 27 that Postal Workers (APWU) President Mark Dimondstein, who described himself as an “anti-Zionist Jew,” was a lone voice on the AFL-CIO executive council pushing others to stand for a ceasefire. He spoke for 30 minutes in the council meeting, the Times reported...


Despite the current crackdown on criticism of Israel’s actions, a handful of union locals have passed calls for ceasefire and solidarity.

In Austin, Texas, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 520 passed a resolution at its membership meeting to sign on to the ceasefire letter started by the United Electrical Workers (UE) international and Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 3000...

Along with these Texans, eight other labor organizations have added their name to the ceasefire letter, including the San Antonio educators and school staff, Restaurant Workers United, and the Auto Workers' western regional leadership.

On Tuesday, top leaders of the Painters (IUPAT) put out their own call for a ceasefire. IUPAT President Jimmy Williams wrote on X, “It is the duty of all working people to stand up and say enough. A conflict of this magnitude cannot be fixed by bombs and bullets.”

The board of Longshore Workers Local 5 in Oregon, which includes workers in bookshops, early childhood education, and animal clinics, put out a ceasefire statement that says, “The ILWU’s long history of social justice activism and solidarity with oppressed people around the world is part of what drew the original organizers of Local 5 to the ILWU in the first place.” In recent decades, Longshore Workers at Oakland and British Columbia ports have refused to unload cargo from Israeli ships, honoring picket lines and boycotts.

A new rank-and-file campaign, WGA for Peace, is pushing for the Writers Guild to resist the lead of the Director’s Guild (DGA) and SAG-AFTRA in releasing statements of support for Israel. A group of high-profile members of the Guild had asked the Guild to condemn the October 7 attacks...

WGA for Peace published their own open letter, now signed by members of the Animation Guild (IATSE-TAG), the Directors Guild, and SAG-AFTRA calling on their unions to retract statements uncritically supporting Israel’s actions.

In California, the board of the Oakland Education Association called for an immediate ceasefire, organizing a rally with other unions and sharing curriculum and other resources for teachers...