SEIU and AFT join call for cease-fire in Gaza

Over 1,500 Portlanders attended a Nov. 11 event billed as a Labor Rally and March for Cease-Fire and End to Apartheid in Palestine. | Photo by Don McIntosh

By DON McINTOSH

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on Jan. 22 became the fourth national union in the United States to call for a cease-fire in Gaza. And on Jan. 30, American Federation of Teachers became the fifth.

“As a union family strongly committed to justice and democracy, we believe all people across the globe deserve to live safely and free of fear, with dignity and respect for their human rights, as well as access to food, water, shelter, medicine, and other necessities,” SEIU said in its statement. The statement condemned “the horrific attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7” and “the widespread attacks on innocent civilians, including the bombardment of neighborhoods, healthcare facilities, and refugee camps by the Israeli military.”

“Months of assaults on Gaza have killed over 20,000 Palestinians and led to the displacement of more than 85% of the Gazan population. Palestinians face an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis, threatened by starvation and disease as well as by violence, and desperately need aid. We call for an immediate cease-fire, the release of all hostages, and the delivery of life-saving food, water, medicine and other resources to the people of Gaza.”

“The war in Gaza must end, and diplomacy that creates two states for two peoples must start,” began AFT’s statement. The statement criticized Hamas for its “horrific slaughter of Israeli civilians” and its “dictatorial rule” in Gaza, but also called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government “a major obstacle to achieving lasting peace, freedom and security.”

The AFT statement also called for an end to politically motivated attacks on universities in the United States. “Teachers and students must be free to express different views on the burning issues of the day, without fear of loss of position and retaliation, and without intimidation and threats of violence.”

Other national unions to call for a cease-fire are United Auto Workers, American Postal Workers Union, and United Electrical Workers. Dozens of local unions have also issued statements, including some in Oregon and Washington: Painters Local 10, Ironworkers Local 29, AFSCME Local 88, Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Portland State University Faculty Association, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 5, PROTEC17, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)-Oregon, AFT Local 6069 (Coalition of Graduate Employees at OSU), New Seasons Labor Union, Oregon Education Association, Portland Association of Teachers, and UNITE HERE Local 8.

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