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U.S. Labor Leaders Blast British Unions' "Boycott Israel" Resolutions

U.S. labor leaders are denouncing British union support for a boycott of Israel . Their response comes in the wake of a decision by several unions, including the UK Transport and General Workers Union, to back economic, cultural and academic boycotts of Israel in protest against “the treatment of the Palestinian people.”

“Their resolutions have no purpose other than demonizing Israel ,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Jewish Labor Committee, an alliance of Jewish union leaders and supporters which is soliciting support for a statement opposing these boycotts.

The JLC’s effort has been endorsed by the president of the AFL-CIO; the chair of Change to Win; presidents of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Teachers; United Food and Commercial Workers; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Masters, Mates and Pilots / ILA; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union / UFCW; American Postal Workers Union; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; UAW; American Federation of School Administrators; Office and Professional Employees International Union; American Federation of Government Employees; UNITE-HERE; United Mine Workers of America; Sheet Metal Workers International Association; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; Transportation Communications Union; American Federation Musicians; Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union; the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers; the Transport Workers Union of America; the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners; the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada; the Utility Workers Union of America; the Seafarers International Union of North America; the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers; the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers-Communications Workers of America; the Writers Guild of America, West; the Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association of the United States and Canada; the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union; the National Education Association; and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / IBT.

Also endorsing the effort are the presidents of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; the A. Philip Randolph Institute; and the Italian-American Labor Council.

Appelbaum, who is also president of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said he expects other U.S. labor leaders to join those who have already voiced their opposition.

“The U.S. labor movement has always been a strong supporter of Israel and continues to be,” Appelbaum said, adding that American union leaders “understand that resolutions calling for boycotts of Israel undermine the goal of winning a lasting peace in the Middle East.”

“It’s obvious that the motivation behind these one-sided boycotts is less an authentic concern for human rights than it is a desire to bash Israel,” he said.