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The AFL-CIO, Black Lives Matter, and Police Unions



This is a good piece on how the AFL-CIO is trying to thread the needle between supporting the rights of police unions to collectively bargain and be part of the labor movement and support the millions of people of color in this country, many of whom are also union members, who rightfully fear the violence of those police union members. My position remains the same–that we all need to support police unionism while shunning the police unions from any other form of support. All workers need the right to collective bargaining and there is absolutely zero evidence that busting their unions would do anything at all to address the concerns of Black Lives Matter activists. That said, the police unions are terrible on all political and racial questions and show no solidarity ever with any other unions. But yes, they do deserve collective bargaining rights. Whether that is in the AFL-CIO or not, that’s another question. I don’t think the AFL-CIO has to provide much support for them and I think the future of unionism is far more with workers of color in service industries than in the older police unions. But some of the building trades unions, which are very powerful within the larger federation because of the decline of the industrial unions and soon to be decline of public sector unions in the wake of Friedrichs, are politically much closer to the police unions than BLM activists. So it’s a tricky situation for Richard Trumka and the AFL-CIO. I am glad Trumka is taking a lead on creating dialogue and participating in what are not always friendly meetings with activists to try and build bridges. That’s the hard work.

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