WASHINGTON - More than 200 labour unions in the US, including seven national and more than 200 local unions, have launched a coalition to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, The New Arab's correspondent in Washington Brooke Anderson reports.

The announcement was made on Friday, using the website of the new coalition, the National Labor Network for Ceasefire, saying that with their organising, they were aiming to "end the death and devastation" in the Middle East and to expand support for a ceasefire in Gaza among US unions.

Their main demands are an immediate ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, a restoration of basic human rights, the immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas, unimpeded full access to humanitarian aid, and a call for a ceasefire by US President Joe Biden.

Leading the coalition are the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the Association of Flight Attendants, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the National Education Association, National Nurses United (NNU), the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the United Electrical Workers (UE), and 200 local unions and labour organisations launched the National Labor Network for Cease-fire (NLNC).

"The support for a ceasefire is overwhelming. We can't stand by in the face of this suffering. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel," said UE President Carl Rosen in a public statement issued by the NLNC.

In the same statement, United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain said, "The UAW has a long tradition of calling for peace and justice for working-class people across the globe, and we live that tradition today. In that spirit, we call for an immediate end to the US government's funding and support of this brutal assault on Gaza."

This union network formation follows a call for a ceasefire earlier this month by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest labour federation in the US.

It is one of the latest moves in labour support for a Gaza ceasefire. In December, a coalition of labour leaders voiced their position, having also done so during a vigil earlier that month in Washington, DC, to mourn the lives lost from the war, as they stood alongside progressive politicians, including Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Cori Bush of Missouri.

With the rise of union activism over the past several years, their support has become increasingly important for politicians. During last year's UAW strike, both Biden and Tlaib, describing herself as the proud daughter of the UAW, joined the picket line.

The UAW endorsed Biden for president in January despite their divergent positions on a Gaza ceasefire. In their endorsement statement, they thanked the president for his support. This week, Michigan, home to some of the largest car manufacturers in the US, reversed its "right to work" law, giving unions more power to organise and potentially giving them a greater political voice.