Israeli NGO files charge against American union over Israel boycott

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

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center filed a charge, signed by its president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and attorney David Abrams, 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 which prohibits unions from encouraging workers to participate in secondary boycotts. The charge was filed last week.

During its national convention in Baltimore in August, the union, 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 UE has run afoul of a section of 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.”

“We are insisting the NLRB take immediate action against the UE. We intend to force the UE to abandon its unlawful policies,” Darshan-Leitner said in a statement.

UE, in a recent post on their 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.

“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.”

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