The following statement was adopted by a majority vote of the SEIU Local 888 Executive Board on June 19, 2020:
The members of SEIU Local 888 join working people across the country to demand change.
We condemn police brutality, and the murder of Black, indigenous, and people of color. We call for justice. For George Floyd, for Ahmaud Arbery, and for Breonna Taylor—for the innumerable black and brown people who have died at the hands of racists, and due to racist policies—we call for justice. To the loved ones whose lives have been stolen: we grieve with you.
In recent weeks, several tragic, criminal incidents have been perpetrated against people of color due to their race. These events are outward, visible examples of the systemic racism that is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society and economic system.
COVID19 has shone a spotlight on many of the inequities in our nation: black people are dying of the pandemic at more than twice the rate of white people, “essential workers” are being treated as disposable while suffering the greatest economic devastation, and black, brown, and working people are being sacrificed as “stock” in the name of “reopening the economy.”
We can’t seem to escape these horrors, and averting our eyes only makes it worse. Staying silent is compliance and solidarity with the wrong side of the fight for equity. Recent events show us that our uncollected voices of despair are not enough. We need our collected voices to scream with outrage at injustice, and we need action. As a union, that means fighting for strong anti-racist language in our contracts and taking action to oppose racism in our workplace and our union. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Unions lift up the oppressed and exploited and bring about equity through meaningful and positive change in the world around us. Unions are not meant to be a protective shield to keep crimes hidden. Our union is united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just, economically prosperous and humane society.
We call on law enforcement agencies and their workers’ unions, to take positive action. We call on them to stop being bystanders when they see injustice. We remind them of their oaths: to serve and protect, without qualification. We ask law enforcement officers and their unions to pledge to serve with honor and impartiality; to never betray their badges, integrity, character, or the public trust; to do the right thing in the face of wrongdoing; to be accountable and responsible for their actions and to hold other officers accountable for their actions; to vow to serve their community by never allowing injustice.
For current and future generations, we demand better. We do not want to return to what we had before this week or before this pandemic—we seek to change. We commit ourselves to work against injustice and for a more equitable social and economic commonwealth. We will partner with community organizations and allies to press for accountability and systemic changes across the criminal justice system, as well as living wage work, universal and affordable healthcare, the right to join together in a union, and the dignity and respect that we all deserve, no matter the color of our skin or where we are from.
More information about SEIU’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement and increased police accountabilit, visit SEIU’s page: https://www.seiu.org/blacklivesmatter