D.C. labor unions join the struggle to win local ceasefire resolution
Photo via @ShutDown_DC on X

WASHINGTON—On the morning of June 5, a coalition of D.C. labor union locals led a picket action in front of the John A. Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Ave, which houses Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office and the D.C. Council. The picket action was one of the first labor-led demonstrations in the country featuring a coalition of unions fighting for a ceasefire resolution at a municipal level.

The coalition featured leaders and rank-and-file members from the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), SAG-AFTRA & Sister Guild Members for Ceasefire, IWW DMV Education Workers Organizing Committee, UAW, American Postal Workers Union (APWU), AFA-CWA, SEIU Local 500, ATU Local 689, and the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees.

The demonstration follows nearly eight months of Israel’s U.S.-backed genocide in Gaza and countless efforts by the D.C. for Ceasefire Now Coalition to get a councilmember to introduce a ceasefire resolution on the local level to join the over 100 municipalities across the United States that have already passed them.

To date, leaders of local labor unions like the National Nurses United, SAG-AFTRA, and CLUW have all participated in actions in an individual capacity, including press conferences, mass meetings, and disruptions of council proceedings but this marked the first official action by their unions. This is a major advance for the unions in the area on the ceasefire issue.

“As a union that stands for equality, social justice, human and labor rights, APWU members have been shocked and saddened by the tragic and ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said.

“A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Gaza and worsening by the day. As a District resident and a labor leader, I join this urgent call on the D.C. Council to pass a ceasefire resolution now.”

“Rank-and-file workers and union activists have been in the streets of DC for months demanding a permanent ceasefire and self-determination for the Palestinian people,” Metro D.C. CLUW President Chelsea Bland said.

“It is past time for the D.C. Council to heed the call from residents, workers, and visitors of the District and be on the right side of history. With each passing day, we are watching absolute terror being rained down upon the people of Gaza. The Metro D.C. Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women calls on the D.C. Council to pass a ceasefire resolution now.”

Leaders of Wednesday’s effort vowed to continue pressuring the D.C. Council and to involve the labor movement on a more consistent basis, potentially leading to a multi-day or weekly picket in front of the Wilson Building.

With the D.C. primary election season ending with a majority of pro-ceasefire candidates winning their races and the budget period ending on June 12, the Council now has a mandate from the D.C. community to finally speak out on this issue after several months of ignoring and being dismissive of their constituency.

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Jamal Rich
Jamal Rich

Jamal Rich writes from Washington, D.C. where he is active with the Claudia Jones School for Political Education.