SEATTLE – A local labor council that represents 150 unions and 100,000 workers in King County has ousted the Seattle police union from its group.
A spokesperson for the MLK Labor Council said 55 percent of delegates voted in favor of expelling the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), the 1,300-member police labor union.
The MLK Labor Council is the area’s largest and advocates on behalf of its members, including during contract negotiations.
“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," the organization said on Twitter after the vote.
Two weeks ago, the MLK Labor Council said it would expel SPOG if it didn’t admit racism is a problem in law enforcement and agree to address the issue during contract negotiations.
SPOG President Mike Solan said in a prepared statement that the labor council's decision is "deeply disappointing and concerning."
"SPOG has addressed the demands set forth in the MLK Labor resolution. Our executive board also participated in a 2.5 hour Zoom meeting with the executive board of the MLK Labor Council to further address the resolution," Solan said. "This conversation allowed our unions to immerse ourselves in a cathartic, robust discussion on race relations and how we ALL can move forward in labor solidarity against racism. Despite our expulsion, SPOG is hopeful these important conversations will continue."
Members of local labor unions - from health care workers to teachers to Seattle city employees - gathered at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle Wednesday to rally against SPOG and demand change.
“If people are very invested in protecting the working conditions of police, even though it disproportionately impacts black folks and indigenous people of color, then we have to question the mechanism to support police who are continuing to brutalize our communities,” said Isaura Jimenez Guerra, a teacher and member of Highline Education Association.
“Police are not part of our labor movement, and it’s really important for the MLK Labor Council to kick SPOG out,” said Rupika Madhavan, a teacher and member of Highline Education Association.
Solan, SPOG's president, countered that the job of policing "is a calling that not many can do."
"Seattle Police Officers Guild members are high‐caliber individuals who swore an oath of service ... We are willing to risk our lives to save others; while others run from danger, we run toward it. As the job becomes increasingly political and dangerous, I’m confident SPOG members will continue to serve professionally, for the betterment of our society," Solan said.