The Writers Guild of America East released a statement on Monday calling for the AFL-CIO to sever ties with the International Union of Police Associations, a major police union, in response to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
In its statement, the guild said that including police unions as part of its coalition is incompatible with the AFL-CIO’s goals: “To vanquish oppression, privation and cruelty in all their forms.” Going further, the guild said the IUPA’s activities are “consistently directed toward the achievement of the program or purposes of authoritarianism, totalitarianism, terrorism and other forces that suppress individual liberties and freedom of association and oppose the basic principles of free and democratic trade unionism.”
“As long as police unions continue to wield their collective bargaining power as a cudgel, preventing reforms and accountability, no one is safe,” the guild said.
The guild’s announcement comes as police unions have come under scrutiny among labor organizers. Police unions have stood as a core element of municipal governments as they lead negotiations on officer pay and often have a major say in the shaping of city budgets. This past week, the Los Angeles Police Protection League criticized Mayor Eric Garcetti after he announced that he would cut LAPD budgets by $100-150 million in response to citywide protests, with director Jamie McBride questioning Garcetti’s mental health.
“I think that he should seek some help, and maybe have someone to talk to, a counselor or something, and reflect on some of his decisions, reflect on his ability to lead the city and keep the citizens safe,” McBride said.
While the AFL-CIO has resisted calls from multiple member unions over the years to cut ties with police unions, which provide major boosts to union rolls, other labor organizations have moved against groups like the IUPA. Last Thursday, MLK Labor, Seattle’s central labor organization, issued an ultimatum to the city’s police guild demanding a meeting to prepare sweeping reform to address “systemic racism” in the SPD or risk expulsion from MLK Labor. Just days after that ultimatum was released, Seattle police fired tear gas on protestors despite promises of a 30-day moratorium on tear gas usage by Mayor Jenny Durkan.
“The system of policing in our society is being demonstrated to be broken,” MLK Labor said in their statement. “Labor can play a critical role, along with our community and elected leaders, in redefining the role of law enforcement in our society by following the lead of our sisters and brothers in the broader community.”