SEATTLE — Thousands of union members voted Wednesday night to remove the Seattle Police Officers Guild from the MLK Labor Council, a group which represents more than 100 union organizations in King County.
The vote to remove the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) happened after the labor council says the police union failed to meet three actions regarding 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," a tweet from the council read.
On June 4, the council told the police union it had until June 17 to meet the demands or risk being removed from the council.
The demands included:
- A meeting between representatives of the MLK Labor Executive Board and the SPOG Executive Board, to occur within the next two weeks.
- An affirmation of SPOG that racism is a structural problem in our society and in law enforcement that until addressed creates undue harm on Black and BIPOC communities.
- Participation in an MLK Labor working space to be determined in the above meeting that commits us to a partnership within labor; this working space will be dedicated to promoting safety within our community and within law enforcement by addressing racism within SPOG as an institutional actor and ensuring that contracts do not evade legitimate accountability when professional standards are not followed and harm is done.
The MLK Labor Council said most of its member organizations met its requirements when it comes to addressing racial justice and the council was asking the police union to join in that effort.
In a statement, SPOG President Mike Solan called the vote “deeply disappointing and concerning” arguing that the union has addressed MLK Labor’s demands.
Solan says SPOG sent a letter to the MLK Labor on June 15 with its response to the council’s resolution, and SPOG’s executive board met with MLK Labor’s executive board on a Zoom call to discuss it.
“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,” Solan said in a statement. “Despite our expulsion, SPOG is hopeful these important conversations will continue.”
The Seattle Police Officer's Guild will continue as the union for Seattle Police Officers. However, the organization will no longer have the support of the MLK Labor Council, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.
The Officer's Guild can re-enter the council if it "legitimately commits to becoming an anti-racist organization and works with the community to find ways to solve these problems and accept accountability for officers and isn't on the other side of that fight..." according to council board member Joe Mizrahi.