Connecticut AFL-CIO Passes Resolution Condemning Israel

Joshua Sharf Contributor, Haym Salomon Center
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At its biennial convention last month, the Connecticut AFL-CIO passed a resolution calling on its member unions to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement directed against Israel.

The resolution is just the latest endorsement of anti-Israel activity amongst labor unions. This passage marks the first time a state chapter of the nation’s largest umbrella organization for unions has adopted such a measure.

In it, the state organization and its affiliate unions call on the national AFL-CIO to:

“Adopt the strategy of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in connection with companies and investments profiting from or complicit in human rights violations arising from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel, and to urge its affiliates and related pension and annuity funds to adopt similar strategies.”

While such wording would appear to target only those companies actually doing business in the territories, in reality, many of those companies also have operations inside Israel’s pre-1967 armistice line as well. Attempted boycotts of Israel are often not limited to products and services originating over the Green Line (disputed territories).

The resolution’s introductory clauses repeat a number of BDS talking points, including the characterization of the 2014 Gaza War as “collective punishment” of the Palestinians, and blanket condemnation of “settlements” over the Green Line, including eastern Jerusalem.
It also cites as precedent similar resolutions passed by the International Trade Union Confederation and UNITE, the largest trade union in the UK and Ireland.

David Roche, president of the Connecticut Building and Construction Trades Council, and John Harrity, president of Connecticut Council Machinists, introduced the measure after Roche took part in a tour of Israel and the territories sponsored by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions earlier this year.

Roche is also the executive secretary of the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

Pro-Israel groups have pushed back against the resolution. Shahar Azani, executive director of StandWithUs Northeast, said of the decision:

“StandWithus is deeply disappointed that this resolution passed. It is unfortunate that the delegates made their decision based on a distorted, one-sided misrepresentation of the reality of the situation based on their October trip. The path to peace is by building bridges and not walls between people such as those BDS promulgates. Votes like this only push people further apart.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself has come out against BDS because the Palestinians benefit from Israel’s economic growth. BDS strategy has also been criticized by Palestinian professional leaders, entrepreneurs, and businessmen – as harming the Palestinians as much if not more than Israelis and settlements. In one celebrated case, Sodastream was forced to close a West Bank factory employing hundreds of Palestinians, earning up to four times more than Arabs employed by Palestinian businesses.

It is unclear what immediate effect, if any, the resolution will have on the purchasing, hiring, and contracting practices of the Connecticut AFL-CIO and its constituent unions.

The Connecticut union decision is just the latest attack by labor against the Jewish State.

During its national convention in August, the United Electrical Workers union adopted a resolution endorsing BDS. The resolution blames the Israel-Palestinian conflict on the creation of the Jewish State.

The UE measure does not endorse a “two-state solution” and neglects to condemn the terrorism perpetrated by terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. It accuses Israel of racism, genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and “waging a merciless war on the impoverished population of Gaza.”

Last summer, during the height of the Israel/Hamas war, members of the Chicago Teachers Union marched in an anti-Israel parade. Numerous members of CTU donned their red shirts and union logo to express their views.

Repeated attempts to contact both the state and national AFL-CIO for comment were unsuccessful.