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WSLC, AFL-CIO vow to continue fight for equitable opportunity

SEATTLE (June 29, 2023) — In response to the U.S. Supreme Court decisions today in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill striking down affirmative action programs in higher education, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO President April Sims and Secretary Treasurer Cherika Carter released the following statement:

Once more, a radical right-wing majority seeks to undo decades of precedent in favor of conservative ideology. The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO has consistently supported affirmative action policies and considers them to be an important tool in our ongoing equity work. While the court’s decision is unfortunate, the WSLC will not stop working to ensure equitable opportunity for all.

The United States is multiracial and multicultural. This diversity is at the heart of who we are. It should be cherished, celebrated and fostered. If we don’t fight to ensure equitable educational and economic opportunity for Black & Indigenous folks and people of color, the true potential of who we are as Americans will remain untapped.

We all deserve equal access and opportunity – and we all deserve to live in the kind of country that such equity and opportunity could create. Today’s decision strengthens the Washington labor movement’s resolve in the fight to eradicate persisting racial inequity. Our work continues until we ensure equal opportunity for all Washingtonians.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler released the following statement:

America’s unions are deeply disappointed by today’s decision from the Supreme Court to reverse the longstanding precedent of affirmative action in college admissions. With this decision, universities no longer may use race as one of the criteria in admissions decisions, despite the value diversity in the student body demonstrably adds to the educational experience of all students and our communities. Other race-neutral measures fall short of the goal of increasing student body diversity—and this court now strikes a substantial blow to the ongoing fight for racial equity and economic justice.

Over the last five decades, affirmative action has been a critical tool for addressing discrimination and racial bias. It has helped to level the playing field in our nation’s institutions of higher learning and created equal opportunity in the college admissions process so that students of color and people from disadvantaged backgrounds can aspire to the same educational success as everyone else. As Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote powerfully in her dissent, “deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life,” and in their haste to do away with affirmative action, the conservative justices proved their callousness and disregard for the reality of systemic racism and its ongoing effects. To paraphrase Justice Jackson’s dissent, preventing consideration of race does not end racism.

The Supreme Court’s opinion will not deter us from our continued efforts to achieve racial justice and equal opportunity in every facet of our society. Our unions will continue to organize and use every tool at our disposal to ensure all workers and their families have a fair shot at a better life.

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