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UAW Becomes Largest US Union to Back Gaza Cease-Fire

"From opposing fascism in WWII to mobilizing against apartheid South Africa and the Contra war, the UAW has consistently stood for justice across the globe," said United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain.

Brandon Mancilla, director of UAW Region 9A, announces the union's call for a ceasefire in front of the White House

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

Fresh off historic contract victories, the United Auto Workers on Friday became the largest U.S. union to endorse a cease-fire in Gaza as Israel resumed its bombardment of the Palestinian territory following a weeklong pause.

"I am proud that the UAW International Union is calling for a cease-fire in Israel and Palestine," UAW president Shawn Fain wrote in a social media post on Friday. "From opposing fascism in WWII to mobilizing against apartheid South Africa and the Contra war, the UAW has consistently stood for justice across the globe."

The union's cease-fire endorsement was made public by Brandon Mancilla, director of UAW Region 9A, in remarks outside the White House, labor activist Mindy Isser reported for In These Times.

"Mancilla was at a news conference where labor leaders and union members from across the country had journeyed to Washington, D.C. to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a broad, multiracial coalition of politicians, organizers, and activists who have been on a five-day hunger strike outside of the White House to demand a permanent cease-fire," Isser noted.

On social media, Mancilla announced that the UAW's International Executive Board "will also be forming a Divestment and Just Transition Working Group to study the history of Israel and Palestine, our union's economic ties to the conflict, and explore how we can have a just transition for U.S. workers from war to peace."

The UAW's cease-fire call makes the 400,000-member union part of a growing segment of the American labor movement that is pushing for a negotiated end to the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, where U.S.-backed Israeli bombing has killed more than 15,000 people in less than two months.

Dozens of unions have signed onto a petition launched by the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, which demands the release of all hostages, an end to Israel's siege of Gaza, and a cease-fire that sets the stage for "negotiations for an enduring peace." Despite growing labor support, the AFL-CIO—the largest federation of unions in the U.S.—has yet to back a cease-fire and has actively pushed back against its affiliates' efforts to build support for one.

During a meeting of the AFL-CIO's executive council in late October, just one union leader—Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)—spoke up in support of a cease-fire, The New York Times reported at the time. Last month, the APWU called for "an immediate cease-fire, the release of hostages, and urgently needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza."

"The cries of humanity demand nothing less," the union said.

Dimondstein echoed that message at Friday's press conference outside the White House. "As working people we stand with the oppressed and the innocent, thousands of whom have lost their lives over the last two months," he said. "We unite with unions and people of goodwill around the world in calls for justice and peace."

Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

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