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AFL-CIO: Police Unions Can Stay In

Citing inclusion and access, Federation justifies its consequential position

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jun 10, 2020

Since the George Floyd killing, groups like the AFL-CIO have come under pressure to cut ties with police unions. On Tuesday, the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council considered a resolution that would have removed the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) from their ranks. As UCOMM previously reported, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) East had called for this dramatic action.

In a statement after the meeting, the Executive Council explained that they had decided to take a different path in working with law enforcement unions. Below is their statement.

Statement on Law Enforcement Unions

The murder of George Floyd has put a renewed focus on police unions and, specifically, the affiliation of the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) with the AFL-CIO. Protesting racist violence—whether at the hands of a police officer or a neighbor or an employer—is not only a righteous cause. It’s a responsibility. It’s incumbent upon each and every one of us. We are proud to join the calls for policing and criminal justice reform by Black Lives Matter and the broader civil rights movement.

But we respectfully take a different view when it comes to the call for the AFL-CIO to cut ties with IUPA.

First and foremost, we believe police officers, and everyone who works for a living, have the right to collective bargaining.

We have a dozen affiliate unions who represent law enforcement in some form. There are officers of every color, background, and stripe in America.

We believe the best way to use our influence on the issue of police brutality is to engage our police affiliates rather than isolate them.

Many of our unions have adopted a code of excellence for their members and industries that could and should be applied to those who are sworn to protect and serve. We believe the labor movement must hold our own institutions accountable. A union must never be a shield from criminal conduct.

America is in pain. People of color have suffered for far too long. All of us want answers for George Floyd and every other victim of police violence. It would be quick and easy to cut ties with police unions. But disengagement breeds division, not unity. This is a moment to do what is hard and meaningful and uncomfortable. And that requires building a better labor movement from within.

The AFL-CIO General Board is made up of all of the members of the federation’s Executive Council and the principal officer of each affiliated national or international union, the principal officer of each trade and industrial department, a representative of each national constituency, allied retiree and young worker organizations recognized by the federation, a representative of each chartered national community affiliate, and regional representatives of the state, area and local central bodies selected by the Executive Council pursuant to a system promulgated by the council.

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