Who could have imagined the war between Irael and Hamas in the Gaza Strip would impact the United Auto Workers union organizing attempt In Vance?  It has. UAW President Shawn Fain's angry statement Friday supporting pro-Palestinian college campus protestors is drawing a negative response from politicians and some workers at the Mercedes Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County

Anti-Israeli protests have spread across college campuses in the U.S. including a small one on the University of Alabama campus this week. They are accusing the Israeli Defense Force of committing genocide by killing more than 20,000 Palestinian civilians. They also want an immediate end to the war that began with a Hamas terrorist attack in Israel last October.

The protest at UCLA sparked a violent counterprotest and an aggressive response from campus police and LAPD to dismantle an encampment set up on campus. Those events sparked Fain to post a statement on the UAW web and social media sites.

“The UAW will never support the mass arrest or intimidation of those exercising their right to protest, strike, or speak out against injustice,” Fain wrote Wednesday. “Our union has been calling for a ceasefire for six months. This war is wrong, and this response against students and academic workers, many of them UAW members, is wrong.”

Fain's statement drew a quick response from some political leaders like east Alabama Republican Congressman Mike Rogers (#r District) who has backed Gov. Ivey's anti-union campaign.

"The UAW is standing with the crazed pro-Hamas rioters that have been wreaking havoc on college campuses," Rep. Rogers wrote, "Make no mistake, both of these groups are mouthpieces of the radical left, and neither of them is welcome in Alabama."

The south has traditionally been pro-Israeli and a longtime Mercedes employee who didn't want to be identified due to fear of retaliation by the union told this reporter, "I've been vacillating on how I'm going to vote on the union, now I know it will be no."

UAW is justifying its stance because the union represents 48,000 academic student employees, graduate student researchers, academic researchers, and postdoctoral students in the University of California system. The union claims LAPD did noting when counterdemonstrators attacked pro-Palestinian protestors who had built an encampment in the central part of the UCLA campus. Leadership at UAW 4811 may call for a strike authorization vote as early as next week should the “circumstances justify.”

UAW is demanding the University of California System negotiate with protesters’ and meet their demands, including discussing divestment from companies tied to the Israeli military effort.

Louisiana U.S. Rep. Bill Cassedy joined Rogers in condemning Fain's union statement. “They’re demanding the release of their criminal members who broke the law & threatened the safety of students,” Cassidy said in a post on the social platform X. “This is promoting an extremist rot that is taking over our colleges.”

Fain issued a challenge to the country's political leadership who largely supports Israel, "“We call on the powers that be to release the students and employees who have been arrested, and if you can’t take the outcry, stop supporting this war.”

The union vote at the Vance Mercedes plant and Woodstock battery plant begin April13th.

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