Canada’s largest labor union votes against BDS endorsement

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents approximately 700,000 Canadian workers nationally and fights to improve standards in healthcare, education, social services and more.

 Canadian Grenadier Guards on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Canadian Grenadier Guards on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
(photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) rejected a proposal to endorse the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement’s official platform and boycott Israeli businesses in a vote at the union’s biennial summit on Thursday, foreign media reported.

The CUPE, which has 700,000 total members, had voted for a series of resolutions during the summit. Among them was Resolution No. 70: Endorsing the BDS campaign against Israel and supporting “the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and their demands to end Israel’s military occupation and colonization.” The motion lost by a margin of 68% (no) to 32% (yes).

Jewish groups in Canada welcomed the decision, praising the overwhelming majority of voters who chose “peace over division,” as the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said on Friday. "BDS is an anti-Zionist, antisemitic movement that calls for the demonization and delegitimization of Israel and denies the Jewish people the universal right of self-determination," CIJA said.

The BDS movement is famous for its “Boycott, Divest and Sanctions” platform, which calls for the global community to boycott businesses based in Israel and on governments to divest from and sanction the state of Israel.

Around 2,500 BDS protesters are seen flocking to the Port of Oakland, California, to stop a cargo ship operated by the Israeli-based ZIM company from unloading in protest of Operation Protective Edge, on August 16. 2014. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Around 2,500 BDS protesters are seen flocking to the Port of Oakland, California, to stop a cargo ship operated by the Israeli-based ZIM company from unloading in protest of Operation Protective Edge, on August 16. 2014. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

"CUPE members should be praised for standing up to the lies and intimidation of the BDS movement," said Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, a Canadian Jewish service organization and advocacy group. “The passage of this motion would have inflicted great harm not only on Jewish and Israeli members of CUPE, but on all workers who benefit from trade between Canada and Israel,” Mostyn concluded.

CUPE represents approximately 700,000 Canadian workers nationally, per their website, and fights to improve standards in healthcare, education, social services and more.

“Local 1281”, an Ontario-based union that represents workers in small, nonprofit workplaces, was the original sponsor of the motion. “CUPE 1281 was proud to sponsor and organize the BDS resolution at CUPE2021,” they tweeted last Thursday. “We will keep organizing for a free Palestine, with/without CUPE  National,” the tweet concluded.