Police Associations Are Not Unions

This nation was built on the stolen land of Indigenous people and the stolen labor and lives of our African Ancestors. Dr. W.E.B. DuBois refers to the Civil War as the first “general strike.” As early as 1866, just a year out of the war, Black washerwomen in Jackson, Mississippi joined “in union,” to set “uniform rates,” refusing to undercut each other’s labor. Dr. King was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee as he organized with Black striking sanitation workers.

We honor them, along with the Spirits of historic Black labor leaders who forged the path, including A. Philip Randolph, Dorothy Lee Bolden, Bayard Rustin, and Addie Wyatt. Contemporary Black labor leaders like Bill Lucy, Rebecca Pringle, Yvonne Wheeler, and Black Lives Matter’s own Cecily Myart-Cruz, continue to build a labor movement that centers both workers’ rights and racial and social justice.

The history of Black people and the labor movement is long and deep. Today, and every day, we honor the labor, and the labor organizing, of our Ancestors and our people.

Black workers across the country have built the formal and informal labor movement. We continue to experience the widening of the wealth gap, the erosion of workers’ rights, and right-wing efforts to undermine unions — all at the particular expense of our Black working class.

It’s beyond time to advance and protect the rights of Black workers in the United States, and it’s why we have been working tirelessly alongside our brothers and sisters in Bessemer, Alabama to solidify the first-ever Amazon warehouse union.

Unionizing is one of the best ways for workers to address racial inequities in the workplace and collectively fight for benefits like higher wages and better health care. It’s a vital way to secure safe working conditions and collective bargaining. Plus, they build solidarity among working-class people and move us forward into a future grounded in equity and justice.

But there’s a group of people that don’t belong in the labor movement. The police.

Let’s be abundantly clear: Police associations are NOT a part of this movement.

Rather than move in solidarity with working-class people, police are used by the ownership class to bust unions, break strikes, and criminalize protest. Police are responsible for the murders of union members and their families — and the list is long with torturous stories accompanying each hashtag. It’s time to end police associations entirely and get law enforcement out of the House of Labor once and for all.

Police associations and police unions prevent police accountability and protect the cops who perpetrate violence, racism, and white supremacy.

Those who protect those dedicated to state-sanctioned violence have no place in this movement. Fam, these police associations are NOT Labor Unions — which is why they have got to GO.

Just yesterday, this country recognized Labor Day — so this week and beyond, we hope you will join us in uplifting our #EndPoliceAssociations campaign. To shed light on the dishonest bargaining, state-sanctioned violence, and racist system of white supremacy that are killing our people and plaguing our communities.

Read the “Police Associations Are Not Unions” essay by Anthony Ratcliff on the Scholars for Black Lives site.