The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the largest trade union of public employees in the United States and is affiliated to the AFL-CIO. Cop-Free AFSCME is a coalition of rank-and-file union members and labor activists within AFSCME from around the country who are committed to fighting for racial and economic justice. Here, we reproduce their recent statement, pushing for a motion for a Cop-Free AFSCME. The union has received over 450 signatures of multiracial current and former members from the rank and file, presidents of councils and states, staff, and supporters.
Cop-Free AFSCME unequivocally states that Black Lives Matter and is committed to eradicating anti-Black racism within the labor movement. Left Voice stands in solidarity with rank-and-file AFSCME members as they demand cops out of their unions.
True Solidarity With Black Workers Means Expelling Cops From Labor
WASHINGTON, D.C.: At its national convention last week, hundreds of members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees stood in strong support of the Black Lives Matter movement and a Cop-Free AFSCME.
In the days prior to AFSCME’s 2020 convention, convention delegates submitted four separate resolutions calling for AFSCME’s support of specific demands from the Black Lives Matter movement, including support for defunding the police and disaffiliating from cop unions.
Without notifying the resolutions’ authors, the AFSCME International Executive Board “combined” these four resolutions into a single resolution, claiming to represent the original demands while in fact actively reaffirming AFSCME’s material support of cops and their unions instead.
On the convention floor, AFSCME members succeeded in raising a single amendment to this new resolution, a call to remove cops from the AFL-CIO. Even without being allowed to hear a single voice in support, nearly 400 delegates representing thousands of AFSCME members across the country voted in favor of ousting cops from the union. This week, in solidarity with our AFSCME siblings, No Cop Unions, and in response to misrepresentations and distortions advanced by the AFSCME International Executive Board, we launched a petition to demand a Cop-Free AFSCME.
In the spirit of former AFSCME president Wurf who said, “this union will go to the wall for you, but if you’re going to be racists or fascists, get lost,” we are calling on AFSCME to take the following concrete steps by March 8, 2021, the 52nd anniversary of the historic “I Am A Man” march:
- AFSCME and the AFL-CIO: end our affiliation with police unions and direct our sizable political power towards the goal of defunding the police and re-allocating to life-affirming public services that work to keep ALL communities safe.
- Endorse and advocate for the passing of the BREATHE Act.
- Provide material support to the Movement for Black Lives and local Black-led organizations.
- Advocate for an end to qualified immunity for police, a full ban on cash bail, end no-knock warrants, remove police in schools, decriminalize sex work, and support re-enfranchisement of currently and formerly incarcerated people.
- Make a true commitment to racial justice by creating an MLK memorial fund for Black workers within AFSCME, working to increase representation of Black union leadership proportionate to Black membership, and adding racial justice to our stated “priority issues.”
- All locals who represent corrections, probation, and parole officers and workers, urge staff and leadership within these unions to commit to contracts without qualified immunity that do not evade accountability and prohibit negotiations over anything involving use of force, work to eradicate racism within their ranks, serve and protect all people equally, and not receive assistance from AFSCME when disciplined for sexual misconduct, excessive use of force, or violence.
- Divest from campaigns organizing police officers, jail and prison guards, probation officers, and armed security officers. Instead invest in union organizing campaigns to protect and empower sectors where workers are committed to racial equality, and expand public service employment that supports community safety and well-being