United Auto Workers calls for ‘complete and permanent’ ceasefire in Gaza
The UAW is the largest union in the U.S. to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. | Paul Sancya/AP

In a move that has major implications for the entire U.S. labor movement, the United Auto Workers (UAW) has called for a cease-fire in Israel’s war on Gaza. The move makes the union the largest one to call for a ceasefire and is expected to give a major lift to the growing movement inside and outside the U.S. for peace in the Middle East and for justice for the Palestinian people.

The union’s call for a ceasefire was announced at a press conference that was held outside the White House late Friday. At the time of the announcement, the area in front of the White House was the scene of a continuing hunger strike demanding a ceasefire. The union’s declaration was made by Brandon Mancilla, Director of United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 9A.

“We are calling for an immediate, permanent ceasefire, and we are building a global community of solidarity,” Mancilla declared.

“We opposed fascism in World War II, we opposed the Vietnam War, we opposed apartheid South Africa, and we mobilized union resources in that fight,” Mancilla said.

The UAW joins a growing list of other U.S. unions calling for a ceasefire, including the American Postal Workers Union, the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE), the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), and many other local unions including, for example, the Chicago Teachers Union.

The UAW call for a ceasefire follows its militant and historic six-week strike against the Detroit Big Three automakers. That strike, which resulted in significant gains for auto workers, was widely seen as a victory for the entire U.S. working class in its struggle against corporate America. Workers across the nation supported the strike, as the union minced no words, couching its strike in clear-cut class struggle terms. No more equivocation about the so-called “middle class” but a clear call to working-class action against capitalist bosses marked the strike.

In a sign that bold labor action will continue, the UAW has suggested that all unions try to align their contracts to end in 2028. If they do this, they could end up with incredible leverage and bargaining power.

In addition, the UAW has announced that it will launch a new campaign to organize 150,000 workers at non-union shops.

UAW President Shawn Fain said Friday that he was “proud that the UAW is calling for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine. From opposing fascism in WWII to mobilizing against apartheid in South Africa and the CONTRA war, the UAW has consistently stood for justice across the globe.”

For a leading union to join hands in front of the White House with hunger strikers for justice for Palestinians marks a major shift in the labor movement.

Unions are beginning to more openly align themselves with peace activists. This is important because a broad, effective peace movement can best be built if it has major support from organized labor.

Mancilla was joined at the press conference by Bob Kingsley, the former organizing director of UE, Elise Bryant, the President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Virginia Rodino of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, and Busra Aydin of the Washington Teachers Union.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.