Last August the United Electrical Workers took a brave stand for international solidarity at their national convention by adopting a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement to pressure Israel to end the occupation of Palestine and negotiate a peace agreement.
Last October the Israeli law firm Shurat Hadin filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board claiming that the resolution violated U.S. labor law against “secondary boycotts.” The union countered the charge as a violation of its First Amendment rights.
On Jan. 12, the NLRB dismissed the charge, but Shurat Hadin appealed. On May 26 the appeal was denied.
In a press release issued July 23, UE National President Peter Knowlton said the union, the first in the U.S. to join the BDS movement, welcomed the labor board’s decision. He noted in the past UE had “withstood attempts by the U.S. government to silence us during the McCarthy era in the 1950s” and was “unbowed by the latest attempt … to stifle our call for justice for Palestinian and Israeli workers.”
Knowlton added, “The NLRB’s decision is a victory for the growing BDS movement across the U.S., which faces increasing political attempts to silence and intimidate critics of the Israeli government. As Americans who have a constitutional right to criticize our own government, we certainly have a right to criticize and, if we choose, boycott a foreign government that is heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.” (UEunion.org, July 23)