UE [United Electrical Workers] welcomes the “Panmunjom Declaration” agreement between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), in which the two countries agreed to a goal of formally ending the Korean War with a peace treaty by the end of this year, immediately ending all hostilities on the Korean Peninsula, and complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
In the early 1950s, delegates to UE conventions called for negotiations to end the Korean War. Today we urge the U.S. government, which along with China will be a party to formal talks to end the war, to pursue the path of peace and diplomacy, withdraw its nuclear pre-emptive strike policy, and discontinue military exercises in the region involving nuclear strategic assets. UE delegates have consistently supported this approach as part of our convention resolution, “For Jobs, Peace, and a Pro-Worker Foreign Policy.”
The current South Korean government has been instrumental in achieving this declaration. It was elected as a result of vibrant but peaceful demonstrations against the previous corrupt president led largely by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). We salute the KCTU for their role in this triumph of diplomacy over warmongering.
In this moment of peace and reconciliation, we call on South Korean President Moon Jae-in to release KCTU President Han Sang-gyun from prison. Such an act will demonstrate the South Korean commitment to democratic freedoms, such as the freedom of assembly, for which President Han was jailed by the previous administration. Only with President Han’s release can a democratic trade union movement thrive as part of a peaceful Korean Peninsula.
The decades of military tensions in the Korean Peninsula have diverted resources away from meeting urgent human needs, not only in the Koreas but in the U.S. and Japan as well. We agree with the Japanese union federation Zenroren, with whom we have had a decadeslong relationship of solidarity, that war is the biggest threat to the labor movement’s historic task of protecting decent work and living for all working people.
For peace, jobs, and justice for all! Peter Knowlton, General President; Andrew Dinkelaker, Secretary-Treasurer; Gene Elk, Director of Organization.
April 28, 2018