US desperate to defuse tensions between Israel and Hezbollah!

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Hezbollah elite forces during military exercises in south Lebanon

Amos Hochstein, a senior United States diplomat, has met Israeli leaders and has also visited Lebanon as part of a push by Washington to ‘defuse tensions between Israel and Hezbollah’.

The US envoy arrived in Israel on Monday, and held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.
Gallant’s office said the minister: ‘Provided a situation assessment of developments on Israel’s northern border, emphasising the daily attacks conducted by Hezbollah against Israel’s northern communities and detailing the Israeli military’s efforts to thwart Hezbollah terrorists and infrastructure.
‘Minister Gallant and Mr Hochstein discussed the security situation at length and its impact on the region.’
Hochstein’s visit comes amid growing fears of an all-out war between Israel and the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah that could potentially lead to a wider regional conflict.
Hezbollah had stepped up attacks against Israel the previous week after the killing of one of its top commanders in an Israeli air raid on southern Lebanon.
But the group, which has been targeting Israeli military positions since the war in Gaza broke out, has not announced a new attack against Israel since Saturday evening.
It is not clear whether the lull, which coincided with the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday, is linked to Hochstein’s visit to the region.
On Monday, the Israeli military claimed it killed a Hezbollah member in a drone strike, describing him as a ‘central operative’ in the group’s rockets division.
Hochstein is holding indirect talks with Hezbollah, (which is designated as a ‘terrorist’ organisation by Washington) through Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a close ally of the group, who said said that ‘The two sides are discussing a preliminary agreement’ to end the hostilities.
On Monday, the administration of President Joe Biden stressed that it does not want to ‘see escalation at the Lebanon-Israel border and suggested that the US is ‘advancing a proposal to avert a large-scale conflict’.
US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said: ‘There is a diplomatic framework that we believe is reachable that would resolve this conflict without a full-on war.’
The US has said it wants a ‘diplomatic resolution to the crisis’ at the Lebanon-Israel border.
Hezbollah has said it will not halt its attacks until the war on Gaza ends.

  • Meanwhile, in the United States itself, education unions have won a massive victory in the fight to bring collective trade union rights to Virginia’s public sector.

On Monday, workers at the Fairfax County Public Schools voted to unionise and join the Virgina Teachers Association, creating a union of 27,500 teachers, custodians, teaching assistants, bus drivers, and more.
Fairfax County is in Northern Virginia, near Washington, DC, and the Fairfax County school district is by far the largest in the state.
But many teachers, especially newer ones, live outside Fairfax County because housing there is too expensive.
Public sector collective bargaining has been outlawed in Virginia for decades. Unions were not illegal, but they had no bargaining rights, and had to rely on persuading school boards and legislators.
But in 2021, a new state law lifted the ban.
The law, a compromise measure negotiated among not-very-labour-friendly Democratic legislators, didn’t mandate public sector bargaining rights, but instead established a mechanism for counties and municipalities to choose to enable collective bargaining.
Local governments can reject collective bargaining altogether, or pick and choose which workers they will bargain with.
They can also decide what they will bargain over.
So far, the Firefighters (IAFF) have won five contracts, as well as Prince William County teachers and support staff with a National Education Association (NEA) affiliate.
Richmond schools workers have also organised, as have others.
But in Virginia Beach, where some city workers started organising with the United Electrical Workers before the law was passed, the city council recently rejected an IAFF petition for collective bargaining.
The union behind this week’s big win, Fairfax Education Unions, is a coalition of the local affiliates of the two national teacher unions, the NEA and the AFT.
Rather than compete to represent the workforce, the two unions banded together.
After the school board unanimously passed a collective bargaining ordinance, the union launched a petition to demonstrate support for a union drive.
Activists and organisers then spent the spring signing up members on union authorisation cards, submitting them on May Day this year.
Meanwhile, United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1112 members voted overwhelmingly to ratify their historic contract at Ultium Cells, which builds battery cells for GM electric vehicles.
The local contract, approved by 98 per cent over the course of the last weekend, sets a new standard for the electric vehicle (EV) industry with strong wages and benefits and historic health and safety protections.
Ultium worker Donald Bevly stated: ‘It enables me to just go ahead and move forward in life rather than living from paycheck to paycheck.’
Ultium worker Chris Wyatt said: ‘This is setting a precedent that can be built on.
‘This is a guideline that every other EV plant can follow through with.’
When Ultium opened in 2021, the workers were nonunion, they made just $16.50 an hour, and the EV industry was in a race to the bottom.
But the Ultium workers organised with the UAW in late 2022 and during the Stand Up Strike, they were brought under the GM national agreement.
By October 2027, Ultium production workers will make $35 an hour, 112 per cent more than before they joined the UAW.
The contract includes:

  • 30 per cent raise over three years for production workers;
  • Immediate $3,000 bonus;
  • Four full-time union health and safety representatives in the plant as well as a full-time union industrial hygienist on site.

Ultium worker Lori Lovitz said: ‘The benefits are just the best benefits I’ve had in my life .
‘Paid hospitalisation, holiday pay – I’ve never had this many paid holidays – job security.’
Another Ultium plant is beginning operations in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and battery plants that will employ tens of thousands of workers are being built across the country.
The Ultium contract sets a powerful precedent for those facilities and the entire EV industry.

  • More than 70 nurses and medics at CareFlight servicing Miami Valley Hospital have voted to join the UAW.

The workers provide critical care to severely injured or ill patients in need of immediate treatment via air or ground transportation.
They are looking to improve working conditions, including fairer wages and benefits and have a greater voice on the job.
Nikki Coleman, a flight nurse at CareFlight said: ‘This was an amazing morning.
‘We look forward to having our voices heard and our needs addressed in a fair and transparent contract.
‘Most importantly, we remain dedicated to serving our community by providing the very best service.’
UAW Region 2B Director David Green said: ‘UAW Region 2B is proud to welcome the CareFlight nurses out of Miami Valley Hospital into our union.
‘Their desire to stand up and use their voices to fight for a fair and just contract has been heard.
‘I want to personally thank the volunteer organising committee (VOC) for all their hard work, and I commend Bill Lucas out of the organising department and Eric Gadd, R2B servicing representative, for their support to the CareFlight nurses.
‘When we work together, we win every time! Welcome to the UAW!’