On June 17, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council in Seattle voted 55 percent in favor to expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild. The labor coalition met in a four-hour-long Zoom meeting to decide on the motion. Delegates and guests from many locals made statements for and against it.
The meeting was intense. Those opposed to the motion to expel SPOG pulled out every trick in Robert’s Rules of Order and made the organizers jump through every tech hurdle they could think of. The call was even disrupted at one point by a “Zoom bomb” — someone crashing the meeting and streaming inappropriate media content.
Tensions were high as votes were cast. Finally, the motion passed with a majority of the delegates concluding that the police union should be removed from the council.
The vote came after weeks of local and national protests against racist police brutality. Pressure was put on the council from leaders of local organizations — including ones that serve communities of color such as El Centro de la Raza and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service — who called for the police union to be removed from the council.
A petition from members of the Highline Education Association calling for the police union’s expulsion gathered hundreds of signatures from union members of color, and advocates participating in local protests also called on the labor council to expel SPOG.
The labor council collectively represents more than 100,000 workers in King County, and now the SPOG (which represents roughly 1,300 officers) will not have the support of the council in any negotiations moving forward. Just two years ago, the council lobbied to ratify the police union’s new contract and “allow workers to have their raise.” So this represents a big turnaround in the greater local Seattle labor movement.
This is a step in solidifying the message that police are not a part of labor and don’t belong among the ranks of exploited workers. This is a historic moment in worker solidarity against the police, who act as violent agents of the state and aid in maintaining white supremacy and protection of the private property of the ruling class. Workers are standing together against police violence and white supremacy.
A statement from the council posted on Twitter reads,
Tonight, MLK Labor delegates voted to expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild from our labor council.
As unions, it’s our responsibility to fight for all forms of justice, and there can be no justice without racial justice.
Any union that is part of our labor council needs to be actively working to dismantle racism in their institution and society at large. Unfortunately, the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild has failed to do that work and are no longer part of our council.
Since the killing of George Floyd, communities of color in Seattle and around the United States have spoken loud and clear that the status quo will no longer be tolerated. We have listened to our community and responded by doing the right thing.#BlackLivesMatter