The largest health care union in America is calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, adding to the growing list of labor organizations in the U.S. urging Israel to end its strikes targeting Hamas terrorists due to concern for Palestinian civilians.
The executive council of 1199SEIU, which represents more than 450,000 health care workers throughout New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida and Washington, D.C., called for the ceasefire in a statement Friday.
“1199SEIU calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, to allow for urgent humanitarian relief amid the collapse of the territory’s health and other infrastructure,” the statement begins.
“We reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of Hamas’ attack on October 7, the killings, use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, and kidnappings of Israelis and foreign nationals. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas and the end to indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel.”
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“As healthcare workers, we are deeply troubled by the worsening health and humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Food, water, and medicine are urgently needed to save the lives of Palestinian civilians caught up in this conflict,” the memo continues. “We reject the notion that Israel’s attacks on hospitals filled with patients, apartment blocks filled with families, and the deaths of 11,000+ Palestinian women and children are acceptable collateral damage. We urge an immediate ceasefire.”
1199SEIU’s memo comes days after the board of another major SEIU affiliate, SEIU Local 1000, voted in favor of a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. A representative of SEIU Local 1000 told FOX Business the union agreed to sign on to the same letter the United Auto Workers (UAW) endorsed, which calls for a ceasefire in Israel and “Palestine,” apparently referring to Gaza.
“We, members of the American labor movement, mourn the loss of life in Israel and Palestine,” that letter begins. “We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel, and we call on President Joe Biden and Congress to push for an immediate ceasefire and end to the siege of Gaza. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We also condemn any hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, or anyone else.”
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SEIU Local 1000 is California’s largest public union, representing some 96,000 state workers. According to a person familiar, the board voted 24 to 19 to approve the measure at its December meeting, and some rank and file members are furious over the union’s decision to wade into the controversy.
Dr. Barbara Guzman, an SEIU Local 1000 member who describes herself as conservative and believes a ceasefire would only benefit Hamas, wrote an email to the board following its vote, lambasting the leadership committee for calling for its resolution. She says the move alienated many members – including Jewish people, women, and multiple military veterans on the board who voted against it – at a time when the union is losing membership.
“All it does is create division,” Guzman told FOX Business regarding the union’s decision to call for a ceasefire. “We’re not a political, we’re not a legislative entity. So, we don’t affect what’s going on [in the Middle East].”
“But their stance will definitely affect our membership,” she argued. “It does not make sense.”
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