June 08, 2020

Tim Kauffman

[email protected]

AFGE Announces ‘Full Support and Solidarity’ for Black Lives Matter Cause

Largest union representing federal and D.C. workers echoes calls for racial justice, police accountability, policy reforms

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees National Executive Council today issued the following statement:

Our nation faces a moment of moral crisis.

We have all witnessed the utter disregard for black life in America as Ahmaud Arbery was chased down and shot to death in Georgia, as Breonna Taylor was gunned down in her own home by police, as Tony McDade was shot to death by police, and as George Floyd died begging for air while a police officer killed him by kneeling on his neck and other officers stood by and watched, refusing to intervene.  

The question before every American now is the same as the question before those officers in Minneapolis: will we stand by and watch, or will we intervene? 

As the largest union representing federal and D.C. government employees, the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, will not merely stand by and watch. We are proud to give our full support and solidarity to the Black Lives Matter cause, to support the peaceful protesters on the streets across our country calling for change, and to join their calls for racial justice and specific policy proposals that will help our country achieve those ends. 

We support their call for more police accountability and for a reallocation of resources from militarized policing and toward community redevelopment and education. We will promote their push for economic policies that help eliminate the myriad ways that racial inequality continues to plague our nation. And we will continue to push the proposals they and we support for progressive tax increases on the wealthiest individuals and corporations in order to fund expansions in federally funded health care, education, housing, transportation, and income support. 

We strongly reject the false choice between law and order and Black Lives Matter and the struggle to attain full economic and racial justice. We respect the law, but the president and law enforcement must respect it as well. In particular, the misuse of federal law enforcement to clear a path of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters to make way for a photo opportunity that was quickly turned into a campaign commercial by the president’s re-election team on social media was a clear mockery of the law and our most basic freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights. 

While some have claimed that unions representing law enforcement officers are the problem, as a union that proudly represents law enforcement officers, we commit to being part of the solution. As we continue to fight to improve law enforcement officers’ working conditions and ensure fair employment processes for our members, we affirm our right to bargain for accountability procedures that use evidence and impartial third parties to adjudicate allegations of misconduct so the truth can dictate the outcome. 

As a union, we have a responsibility to fight racial injustice head on – inside our union and outside of it. We commit to ongoing education among our union’s members and leaders to help us tackle these issues and help our members address issues of racism in their union or their workplace. 

By taking these actions, we intend to create a future where our AFGE colors of blue and gold become synonymous with a union membership who has learned how to provide meaningful support in the struggle for real equality for all – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, religion, ethnicity, or other difference.

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