SEIU calls for ceasefire in Gaza

The following article was first published on People’s Dispatch on January 22, 2024 under the headline “One of the largest unions in the United States just called for a ceasefire in Gaza.”

“Wherever violence, fear and hatred thrive, working people cannot,” reads a statement by Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU, which boasts 2 million members, just joined a growing section of the U.S. labor movement in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. SEIU is now the largest union in the country to issue such a statement. 

The statement begins with condemning “the horrific attacks by Hamas on October 7th,” while also condemning “the widespread attacks on innocent civilians, including the bombardment of neighborhoods, healthcare facilities, and refugee camps, by the Israeli military.” 

“We call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and the delivery of life-saving food, water, medicine and other resources to the people of Gaza,” reads the statement. “We call on elected leaders to come together to bring an end to the violence and demand a peaceful resolution that ensures both lasting security for the Israeli people and a sustained end to decades of occupation, blockades and lack of freedom endured by the Palestinian people.”

SEIU joins an emerging sector of the U.S. labor movement which includes the United Auto Workers, the American Postal Workers Union, the United Electrical Workers, and an SEIU local, 1199. SEIU joins this movement as popular support for a ceasefire grows, with a new poll indicating that voters are more likely to support political candidates who call for a ceasefire. 

The union’s statement also indicates a willingness among major unions to break from the established Democratic Party status quo as the Biden administration has been openly hostile towards calls for a ceasefire. The White House has gone as far to condemn the progressive congress members calling for a ceasefire, calling the pressure for peace “repugnant” and “disgraceful.” 

Congress has also thus far failed to hold Israel accountable for ongoing war crimes in the Gaza strip. The U.S. Senate recently rejected a proposal by Senator Bernie Sanders to require a State Department report on Israel’s human rights violations, on the basis that the U.S. can investigate any country receiving U.S. military aid. The proposal was rejected by 72 to 11.

Featured image credit: SEIU