Authors: Virginia Rodino and Kathy Black
The Coalition of Labor Union Women president Elise Bryant and Executive Director Virginia Rodino recently spoke at a press conference for a Permanent Ceasefire. Watch the video to see the entire event.
President Bryant told the crowd in front of the White House, "When armed conflict erupts, it is women and girls who pay the highest price.
"We in CLUW and the entire labor movement are relieved to see Israeli civilian hostages and Palestinian political prisoners returning home to their families. We are fighting for a world in which all families can be together. The only way to actually achieve that—to stop this violence—is through a permanent ceasefire now."
CLUW Executive Director Rodino, representing the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, shared APALA's statement,
"All Israelis and Palestinians deserve freedom from violence. They deserve mobility, safety, sovereignty, and the opportunity to thrive. APALA deeply mourns the devastating loss of life in Palestine and Israel and utterly condemns attacks on civilians. We stand against antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, terrorism and racially motivated violence in the United States and around the world.
"We join the global labor movement and the International Trade Union Confederation in calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East. APALA calls for an immediate permanent ceasefire and an end to the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the release of all hostages, and unimpeded humanitarian aid to all families affected by the violence."
CLUW proudly continued our long tradition of opposing war, excessive military spending, and a militarized US foreign policy at our 22nd biennial Convention in Minneapolis, November 10-12, 2023. A Resolution calling for Diplomacy, not Militarism, was adopted to loud applause. The Philly CLUW Chapter had adopted this language at a recent meeting, and the Chapter, along with Carol Rosenblatt, ED Emerita of CLUW, and Kathy Black, Philly CLUW Board member, submitted the Resolution.
The Resolution was written in early September to put CLUW on record calling for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine. It reaffirms CLUW’s position that true national security is better obtained through broad support for a healthy democracy and meeting the needs of the people, rather than resorting to mass violence with ever more deadly, destructive weapons. It reminds us that military operations are huge contributors to the climate crisis, and that working people around the world must unite to rein in the power of their militaries and redirect their vast resources toward human needs and the climate emergency.
The Israel-Gaza War had been raging for a month by the time of our Convention, so from the floor, the Resolution’s authors amended it to demand a ceasefire to stop the slaughter, and a diplomatic approach to resolve the conflict. We called for massive humanitarian aid and safe passage for its delivery; and we demanded the release of all hostages taken in the course of these hostilities.
While this horrifying catastrophe deserves its own comprehensive Resolution, the Rules of the Convention made Amendment the best way to take an immediate stand that we could convey to our members and the larger labor movement. We also amended the Resolution to support for legislation that would reduce the Pentagon budget, without cutting pay or benefits of any US servicemembers. HR 1134, the People Over the Pentagon Act (Rep. Barbara Lee, D-CA; Rep. Mark Pocan, D-WI) meets these criteria and is something Chapters can now lobby their elected officials about as a way of acting on the spirit of this Resolution.
With passage of this Resolution, CLUW joins a growing chorus of unions, religious bodies and other organizations calling for a ceasefire in Israel-Gaza, and demanding our own government act as a peacemaker, not an arms merchant. For the 15 years of its existence, CLUW was an active member of US Labor Against the War, organized to oppose the Iraq War, and the only anti-war organization within the labor movement in its history. Veterans of the Iraq War and their family members spoke at CLUW Conventions; we marched for peace; we hosted Iraqi labor leaders and lobbied Congress with them; we raised money to support their unions and to help assuage the gaping human needs our immoral war created.
The time has come again for the labor movement to speak up and act out against the atrocities of war. We cannot become inured to the barbarism our species still resorts to when conflicts arise. As women, workers, veterans and citizens of the world, we must continue to demand a peaceful world, and work to create it.