It’s time to kick police unions out of the labor movement. They aren’t allies

The ultimate power of the labor movement lies in solidarity. Together, working people are strong. So what can the movement do in this moment of national struggle against racism and police violence? The obvious answer is to deny the power of solidarity to police unions, which function as barriers to the very reforms that Americans are now fighting for. The time has come to put police unions on a raft and set them adrift. Perhaps they can reapply for solidarity if they ever stop abusing the rest of us (…) Union leaders think that the American public is too stupid to understand the difference between regular labor unions and police unions. I disagree. Here is the difference: labor unions empower working people. Police unions disempower working people, by making it impossible to reform and hold accountable police forces that systematically abuse, imprison and terrify working people. Likewise, the motivation of the rightwing assault on unions in general is to disempower working people. The motivation for the current campaign to take police unions out of the labor movement is to empower working people by ensuring that the AFL-CIO is not forced to represent a slice of the workforce that is structurally opposed to its broader mission of freedom and equality for the sort of people most likely to be harassed by the police. This seems simple enough. It is sad to see the union establishment ruled more by fear of losing what they have than by a vision for a better future. Millions of Americans have taken to the streets to cry out for justice. Not only is it the responsibility of the labor movement to stand next to them – it is the responsibility of the labor movement to be them. Union membership has been declining for decades, as inequality rises. This is not a coincidence. A revival of working-class power is vital to fixing many of the underlying issues that have broken our nation. (For example, unions are the only thing that has ever helped close the wage gap between black and white workers.) The energy that has flowed into the protests must also flow into the labor movement. In order for that to happen, unions and the AFL-CIO need to welcome everyone in. That can’t happen when the cops are guarding the door. Time to make a choice. People over police.

Hamilton Nolan in It’s time to kick police unions out of the labor movement. They aren’t allies (Guardian)