Two weeks after George Floyd was choked to death by the Minneapolis police, the AFL-CIO has issued a full statement on this crime. They should have waited two years.
“The scourge of police violence against black people in America has reached a tipping point,” they write. Well, duh! It didn’t reach a tipping point when Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant or Eric Garner or a whole host of others was killed? Why only a tipping point now? The reason is clear: Just like their Democratic Party masters, the AFL-CIO leadership is bowing to public pressure rather than fighting for the interests of workers – all workers.
The statement supports the call for the resignation of Lt. Bob Kroll, who doubles as the head of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation. The statement calls for reform of that police department. But Kroll has a long history as a racist thug. What the AFL0-CIO fails to do is ask how it is that he came to be a lieutenant and also head of that union in the first place, then.
IUPA in AFL-CIO endangers all workers
A central part of the statement is a defense of the presence of the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) within the AFL-CIO. It is no accident that IUPA has endorsed the most reactionary and outright racist president that the US has seen since before the Civil War. IUPA’s presence endangers all public sector unions. Here’s why:
The AFL-CIO essentially pictures the cops as workers in uniform. According to their view, cops should have the same protections and the same collective bargaining rights as all other workers. It is inevitable, though, that there will be enormous pressure to weaken those bargaining rights for the police. As long as police are viewed as being the same as public sector workers, then the pressure to weaken their “union’s” power will also tend to flow over to attacks on the union power of public sector workers. That’s why public sector workers should lead a drive to expel IUPA from the AFL-CIO.
Given the state of affairs within the unions, such a drive will have to come from the rank and file, through resolutions introduced at the local level. Here’s an idea for such a resolution. We urge all workers, but especially public sector workers, to consider introducing this resolution or something similar at their local meeting:
WHEREAS the police abuse against people of color and against all workers has continued unchecked for many years; and
WHEREAS this abuse simply reflects the historic origins of the police as slave catchers in the South and attacking workers in the North; and
WHEREAS the police “unions” have consistently defended the abuse of people of color and others by their members; and
WHEREAS there will inevitably be a drive to limit the power of the police “unions”; and
WHEREAS as long as the police unions are part of the AFL-CIO, this drive will translate to an attack on the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers; and
WHEREAS the International Union of Police Associations is part of the AFL-CIO and their presence has been welcomed by the leadership of that body; and
WHEREAS IUPA has endorsed for reelection the most racist and anti worker president the US has seen in centuries; now therefore be it
RESOLVED that Local ______ (fill in the blank) does hereby call for the expulsion of IUPA from the AFL-CIO and the recognition that police are not workers in uniform; and be it further
RESOLVED that this resolution shall be forwarded to our International as well as ___ (the central labor council to which the local is affiliated) for their adoption; and be it finally
RESOLVED that this local shall form a rank and file committee empowered to really mobilize the membership to participate in and help build the protests against police racism and abuse.
(Note: those wanting to read more about the origins of the police should see this article.)