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Resolution

June 4, 2020

Resolution Affirming Our Commitment to an Anti-Racist Union Movement

PASSED JUNE 4, 2020

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW 21 requests that MLK Labor adopt the following statement and distribute to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle Police Officers’ Guild Board of Directors, the Washington State Labor Council, and MLK CLC affiliates:

  • Systemic racism exists in the City of Seattle Police Department. This problem must be immediately addressed to protect BIPOC individuals in our community from harm. 
  • In contrast to SPOG’s statement, recent events are not the result of a few “bad actors.”  Our police are over-armed with weapons but provided no real tools to dismantle the racism in their own Department or provide the services our community needs.
  • Labor can play a critical role, along with community and our elected leaders, in redefining the role of law enforcement in our society. This will require working closely with our community allies to establish a renewed and principled relationship foremost by following the lead of our sisters and brothers in the broader community.  
  • We believe Seattle has taken the wrong approach in handling what began as peaceful protests. In order for law enforcement to serve community safety, we need different approaches pursued with urgency. 

We are calling upon Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to stand with us by: 

  • Committing to reforming law enforcement through policy, oversight, labor-management partnership, and collective bargaining in order to make community safety a priority—this includes a commitment to becoming anti-racist and understanding the legacy of oppression tied to law enforcement, use of deadly force as a last resort and with the minimally appropriate less-lethal intervention at all times, and to update standards related to policing for crowd management;
  • Moving swiftly to bargain, prioritizing community voices, so that there will be contracts in place that allow for the full realization of the reforms established in the 2017 Accountability ordinance, which does not include “open bargaining” or the wholesale removal of binding arbitration for disciplinary cases.
  • Leading with people and ground in racial justice in all public statements, minimizing property to the full extent possible;
  • Carefully and thoughtfully ensuring BIPOC communities are not pitted against one another;
  • Reexamining all budget choices to prioritize non-law enforcement investments in the community; 
  • Granting full transparency around how her office is engaging with the Chief of Police in this time;
  • Asking the City Attorney to decline to press charges for all individuals who were arrested for activities related to peaceful protest;
  • Ensuring that officer badges and body cams are full tools of transparency and not removed from accountability except where necessary to follow the surveillance ordinance that was carefully informed by the Community Police Commission;
  • Refraining from the use of curfews without the highest threshold of demonstrable rationale, and do not impose without ample warning;
  • Ensure that while law enforcement and their labor is rightfully protected harm to BIPOC is not masked as labor; and,

 

We are calling upon our labor family partners in the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild to stand with us to become an anti-racist organization—a commitment our own union and most labor organizations have already made—as well as an organization that actively builds and prioritizes connection and trust with the community it serves. This will be demonstrated by:

  • A meeting between representatives of the MLK Labor Executive Board and the SPOG Executive Board, to occur within the next two weeks; and
  • An affirmation of SPOG that racism is a structural problem in our society and in law enforcement that until addressed creates undue harm on Black and BIPOC communities; and, 
  • Participation in an MLK Labor working space to be determined in the above meeting that commits us to a partnership within labor; this working space will be dedicated to promoting safety within our community and within law enforcement by addressing racism within SPOG as an institutional actor and ensuring that contracts do not evade legitimate accountability when professional standards are not followed and harm is done.

It is our goal to work using the best practices of inquiry, understanding, and living our commitment that all work and all workers have dignity and that working people’s unity makes us strong. By doing so we seek to avoid dividing ourselves further. However, we are committed to fighting for racial justice in all our institutions no matter who or what would seek to hold us back from the liberation of all working people. We must move with urgency, for no workers’ labor should harm that of another, and we cannot be asked to hold any position that does not protect BIPOC workers in full. Should SPOG fail to meet the above demands we will report back to the full delegate body on June 17th and recommend for a vote of the full delegate body on the question of disaffiliated from the MLKCLC.

We also ask that MLK Labor engage affiliates to consider how to train and mobilize Labor Marshalls to act as barriers between police and protestors and stop agent provocateurs amongst the protestors.