At its national convention in Baltimore in August, 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 BDS

UE delegates at the conference

UE is the first national US union to endorse BDS. The full text of the resolution is available here.

The global BDS movement arose from a 2005 call by Palestinian trade unions and human rights groups. UE’s resolution also calls for a cutoff of US. aid to Israel and for US support for a peace settlement on the basis of self-determination for Palestinians and the right to return. With its resolution UE joins COSATU of South Africa, Unite the Union in Britain and many other labour unions in supporting BDS as a step toward justice and peace in Palestine and Israel.

“We reached a breaking point when Israel launched the war on Gaza in 2014, killing over 2,000 people including 500 children.  Because Israel has been unwilling to engage in real negotiations to bring about a just resolution to the occupation, this is a necessary step for labor to take in order to bring about a peaceful end to the conflicts there” said Carl Rosen, president of UE’s Western Region and a member of the national executive board.

ue

UE represents 30,000 workers across the country in the private and public sectors. At its five-day convention member delegates acted on 37 resolutions on collective bargaining, organizing, and political issues.  UE’s BDS statement upholds the union’s long tradition of courageous stands on foreign policy issues, such as being the first union to oppose the Vietnam War.

The Palestinian Postal Workers Union has written to UE in response to its resolution.  “…We would like to express our deepest appreciation for the courageous resolution on “Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel”… in support of our right as Palestinians to live in peace and dignity as equals on our lands…. We commend you for calling on your government to change its one-sided foreign policy that disregards human rights and harms any efforts at reaching a just peace, and for fully endorsing our call for boycott, divestment & sanctions (BDS) launched a decade ago. We sincerely hope that other national unions in the US and many other countries will follow in your footsteps. Your active solidarity warms our hearts and gives us hope that one day the working class all over will mobilize as one to help us end this brutal colonial occupation, and bring down the blockade, walls and checkpoints.”

UE General President Bruce Klipple says, “The widespread abuse of workers under the occupation is a concern for the global labor movement.  We support our brothers and sisters in the labor movement who call for this peaceful protest to bring about a just peace in Israel and Palestine.”

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, UE is an independent, member-run union representing both private and public sector workers.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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