The labor movement must shun the police unions. Seattle expels theirs from the King County Labor Council.

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The police and the labor movement have a problematic history to say the least.

In Chicago the police union is not a part of Chicago’s labor council.

But nationally, there has been a call for the labor movement in whatever ways to shun the police unions. A small number of locals are affiliated with the AFL CIO.

I have written extensively how the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police and their various “Lodges” in other cities have unique language in their collective bargaining agreements (CBA) that shield them from criminal prosecution when citizen rights are violated.

Many current union leaders, while critical of police misconduct and have spoken out against the racist killing of George Floyd, have remained silent when it comes to the FOP and other police unions.

This is a weird kind of labor solidarity.

The police and the labor movement have a problematic history to say the least.

As I have written before, the Illinois legislature should act to remove the language that protects police misconduct and undermines reform from subjects of bargaining.

Chicago labor unions should have nothing to do with the FOP.

In Seattle last night the King County Labor Council voted to expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild, which represents roughly 1,300 officers from its ranks.

The vote comes two weeks after the council, an affiliate of the national AFL-CIO, passed a resolution calling on SPOG to acknowledge and address racism within its ranks and law enforcement more generally, and to commit to negotiating collective bargaining agreements that do not evade accountability.

The leadership of Chicago’s FOP is much more hostile to the Black community and reform than the Seattle police union is and yet the Seattle labor council saw the need to essentially censure their police union.

“We can’t both stand with a  police system that’s set up to hurt our Black community and stand up for our people of color who are oppressed by police,” said Jane Hopkins, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.

The labor council  collectively represents more than 100,000 workers in King County. Its vote to expel the police union symbolizes the stunning pace and impact of the protests against police brutality in Seattle and across the country since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on May 25.

Just two years ago, the same labor council vehemently lobbied the Seattle City Council to ratify the police union’s new contract. Its executive treasurer-secretary, Nicole Grant, said at the time, “It’s time for supporters of police reform to back off and allow workers to have their raise.”

Now, nobody is backing off in Seattle.

 

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