SEATTLE (June 18, 2020) — Delegates for the unions that comprise MLK Labor, the AFL-CIO central labor council for King County, voted Wednesday night to expel the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) from the council.
“As a union movement, it’s our responsibility to fight for all forms of justice,” said MLK Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Grant after the vote. “In the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, we believe that there can be no justice without racial justice. Any union that is part of our labor council needs to be actively working to dismantle racism in their institution and society at large. Unfortunately, the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild has failed to do that work and are no longer welcome in our council.”
She added, “Since the killing of George Floyd, communities of color in Seattle and around the United States have spoken loud and clear that the status quo will no longer be tolerated. We have listened to our community and responded by doing the right thing.”
One June 4, the council’s executive board passed a resolution that called on the SPOG to stand with the labor community by committing to become an anti-racist organization. The Board outlined several actions of SPOG in order to regain the support of the labor community and remain in the labor council:
► A meeting between representatives of the MLK Labor Executive Board and the SPOG Executive Board, to occur within the next two weeks;
► An affirmation by SPOG that racism is a structural problem in our society and in law enforcement that, until addressed, creates undue harm on BIPOC communities; and
► Participation in a labor working space dedicated to promoting safety in our community and within law enforcement by addressing racism within SPOG as an institutional actor and ensuring that contracts do not evade legitimate accountability.
The meeting happened, but enough participants were dissatisfied with the SPOG’s responses to these demands that delegates voted to expel the police union.
“Two weeks ago we gave yet another chance for the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild to make immediate and drastic changes to correct the systemic and institutional racism in the department,” said Joe Mizrahi, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW 21 and a member of the MLK Labor Executive Board. “That was not done, and tonight we followed through on our commitment for change by voting for accountability, for justice, for Black Lives Matter and for reform by kicking SPOG out of the council.”
According to its mission statement, “MLK Labor exists to unify labor organizations in King County to build power and strength for all workers. We fundamentally value diversity and we are engaged in the fight to challenge bigotry in all forms. We support local unions and affiliated organizations to strengthen and grow as the best way to improve the lives of workers and our communities and we will adapt and grow our movement to meet all new challenges.”
Learn more at MLKLabor.org.
The Stand is a news service of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which is the AFL-CIO state federation for all of Washington. The Seattle Police Union Guild is not affiliated with the WSLC, nor are any other exclusive law enforcement guilds or unions that are affiliated. There are, however, WSLC-affiliated unions that count law enforcement and corrections officers among the ranks of the workers they represent.
The WSLC continues its ground-breaking work on racial justice, equity, and the labor movement’s responsibility to tackle racism. For more information about that work, visit the Race and Labor page of the WSLC website.