Resolution on Police Accountability and Systemic Racism

The Connecticut AFL-CIO Executive Board adopted the following resolution on police accountability and systemic racism earlier this morning.

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RESOLUTION CONDEMING RACIAL INJUSTICE AND CALLING FOR CHANGES TO POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY AND POLICIES THAT PERPETUATE SYSTEMIC RACISM AND RACIAL INEQUALITIES

WHEREAS no person of conscience can watch the video of George Floyd pleading for his life under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer and not understand that something is, and has been, deeply wrong in America; and

WHEREAS the protests that swept our state and our nation, precipitated by George Floyd’s murder, are about putting an end to police brutality and dismantling a four-hundred year old paradigm of systemic racism that continues to play an insidious role in the daily lives of all working people of color; and

WHEREAS racism continues to affect people of color as evidenced by the fact that one in ten black men in his thirties is in prison or jail on any given day; one in six Latinos born in 2001 can expect to go to prison in their lifetime; Black people are more likely to be required to pay bail and are more likely to have higher bail; Black women make tens of thousands less than white men with the same education; Black workers continue to face higher unemployment rates, fewer job opportunities, lower pay, poorer benefits, and greater job instability; employers are more likely to consider white candidates with criminal records than black candidates with no such history; and in the middle of a pandemic, evidence suggests that black and Latino workers face much more economic and health insecurity from COVID-19 than white workers; and

WHEREAS issues of systemic racism are labor issues because they affect workers, the workplace and the communities in which our members live and work; and

WHEREAS the labor movement has a long tradition of fighting for civil rights, always linking workers’ rights to civil rights, economic rights and human rights; and

WHEREAS the Connecticut AFL-CIO and its affiliates have already committed to becoming an anti-racist organization, as well as an organization that actively builds and prioritizes connection and trust with the community it serves; and

WHEREAS while some opportunistic, far right organizations are attempting to hijack this moment to attack collective bargaining rights, the Connecticut AFL-CIO remains committed to the belief that police officers and everyone who works for a living has the right to collective bargaining;  so

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that in the depths of our pain, the Connecticut labor movement renews its commitment that peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on police union leaders to take the initiative to engage with justice advocates, as they have done previously in 2016 and 2019 to now proactively contribute to comprehensive policy solutions that put an end to police brutality, root out systemic racism, enhance transparency, foster positive, collaborative relationships between officers and the communities they’re sworn to protect and remove officers who abuse their authority; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on union leaders to espouse the words of AFSCME national president Lee Saunders, who wrote in a recent op-ed regarding the killing of George Floyd, “No union contract is or should be construed as a shield for misconduct or criminal behavior. In fact, the four officers in Minneapolis were fired the day after George Floyd was killed, and now they’ve all been charged.” And;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Connecticut AFL-CIO and its affiliates will stand in solidarity with police unions who take courageous steps to make meaningful change, including establishing zero tolerance policies for police officers who employ racism, discrimination, police brutality or any other action that jeopardizes the public’s trust and the elimination of provisions that delay justice for those who have suffered from police abuse of power;

BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED that the Connecticut AFL-CIO endorses the AFL-CIO’s national code of excellence, developed by national police unions and challenges all law enforcement officers to hold themselves to that standard, so that compassionate and law abiding police officers can be recognized for the positive contributions they make to their communities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Connecticut AFL-CIO and its affiliates continue to march and advocate alongside our community and coalition partners, including, but not limited to Black Lives Matter, the General Assembly’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus and the NAACP to ensure the work of peaceful demonstration turns into enacted policy solutions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Connecticut AFL-CIO and its affiliates support legislative efforts to enhance police accountability, but will also work in coalition to advance policies that contribute to dismantling 400-year old traditions of racial inequities, including prioritizing budget investments that close gaps in housing, education, workforce training, job creation and fair revenue policies.

BE IT FINALLY RESOVLED that today, June 19, 2020, the 158th anniversary of the date President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation effectively nullifying the Dred Scott decision, which held that black Americans could not be citizens, we join with our black brothers and sisters to celebrate “Juneteenth,” the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States and also renew our commitment to eradicating racism once and for all.