Israeli NGO files charge against American union over Israel boycott


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Tel Aviv-based human rights organization has filed a complaint against an American union that endorses boycotts of the Jewish state.

Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center filed the complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, or UE, of violating the National Labor Relations Act provision prohibiting unions from encouraging workers to participate in secondary boycotts. The complaint was filed last week and is signed by Shurat HaDin’s president, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, and attorney David Abrams.

During its national convention in Baltimore in August, the UE, which represents 35,000 workers, passed a resolution calling on Congress to end military aid to Israel and to pressure Israel to “end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza.” The resolution endorses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and encourages union members “at all levels” to participate.

By aligning itself with the BDS movement, Shurat HaDin maintains that the UE has run afoul of a section of the National Labor Relations Act that reads, “It shall be an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents…[to force or require any person] to cease doing business with any other person.”

“It is a violation of American labor law for the union to encourage its members to cease doing business with Israelis and Israeli companies,” Darshan-Leitner said in a statement. “The UE needs to decide whether it wants to be a discriminatory hate group targeting Jewish companies or a respected union representing the best interests of its members.”

UE, in a recent post on its website, said the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation sent them a thank-you note in response to the passage of the resolution. The thank-you note reportedly was signed by more than 3,000 individuals and 41 organizations, many of whom are involved in the Palestinian solidarity movement.

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