Across the United States, police routinely engage in violent actions that disrupt, harm, endanger, and end the lives of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). These atrocities are not simply the result of individual offenses. They are indicative of broad systemic discrimination enabled not just by cultural precedent – but by contract. Police unions such as IUPA, acting as representatives of their members, structurally reinforce, amplify, and perpetuate systems of oppression by hindering transparency and accountability. We at UAW5810 support the right of all workers to organize. We also believe backing institutions that function to support systemic injustice only results in undermining workers, and is antithetical to the values that the labor movement was founded on. The power of collective action must not be used to enforce injustice.
We join our fellow workers in other unions who have already released statements in support of disaffiliation. We call on other AFL-CIO member unions to consider the demonstrated role of police in upholding systems of abuse and inequity, and to therefore unlink the cause of organized labor from policing. Join us in this call. Allowing police unions to continue receiving support from the AFL-CIO undermines the organization’s mission of creating economic and social justice. Silence from labor on the actions of police and the enabling role of their unions in these abuses comes at the expense of the lives and wellbeing of our BIPOC sisters and brothers. As it stands, associating with police fundamentally undermines the critically important work that unions do to advance workers rights and protections.
As UAW members, we have appreciated the solidarity extended by the AFL-CIO. This statement is motivated by this same sense of solidarity for the BIPOC workers continuously brutalized at the hands of police. As members of the labor movement, it is incumbent on us to recognize both the historical and current role that police play in perpetuating racial violence, and the unique ways they weaponize their union contracts to enable and reward such violence. We feel strongly that police do not support the broader goals of labor, do not deserve AFL-CIO benefits, and should be shunned by those working to advance economic and social justice. Further, we ask our fellow labor unions, members of the AFL-CIO and otherwise, to reevaluate their ties to law enforcement and consider whether the labor movement can truly be one for justice so long as those who prey on the working class are given cover under its umbrella.
Check the Police: “How police union contracts make it more difficult to hold police officers accountable for misconduct”