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Labor Unions ‘Demand Justice For’ George Floyd

Published Monday, June 1, 2020
by James Dennis Hoff/
Labor Unions ‘Demand Justice For’ George Floyd

(MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA) - Labor Unions and Rank-and-File Union Members across the country have been standing in solidarity with those protesting police violence in Minneapolis and other U.S. cities.

Since the protests over the brutal and callous murder of George Floyd began late last week, several Local and National Labor Unions have issued strong statements against police violence and racism, while others have cut ties with Police Unions - or even refused to cooperate with police. 

In Minneapolis, at least two local Unions have taken strong stands against the murder of Floyd and in support of protesters.

As Socialist Resurgence reported, UNITE HERE Local 17, which represents Hotel, Restaurant and Airport Workers across the city, was one of the first to speak up, saying unequivocally that they stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement: “We stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family.  We demand justice for George Floyd.  We demand a stop to the unnecessary violence at the hands of those who have sworn to ‘serve and protect’ us.  Our Union stands on the side of justice.  Our Union stands for #blacklivesmatter.”

In addition to Unite Here, the Minneapolis Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU 1005) issued a powerful statement of solidarity.  Published three days after the killing of Floyd, ATU 1005 called for a new Civil Rights Movement linked arm-in-arm with Labor: “Police brutality is unacceptable!  This system has failed all of us in the Working Class from the Coronavirus to the economic crisis we are facing, but this system has failed People of Color and Black Americans and Black youth more than anyone else.  More than ever we need a new Civil Rights Movement. A Civil Rights Movement that is joined with the Labor Movement and independent of the corporate establishment’s political parties.”

Ending with the demand: “NOT ONE MORE! JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD,” this letter was followed by a true act of Working Class Solidarity on Friday, when Bus Drivers, Members of ATU 1005 refused to cooperate with police requests to haul arrested demonstrators to prison on Minneapolis public buses.

This action was repeated in New York City on Friday, when Bus Drivers similarly refused to cooperate with police attempts to commandeer their buses and force them to drive arrested protesters to jail. 

Other Unions across the country have issued similar statements denouncing the murder of Floyd, including National Nurses United (NNU) and United Steel Workers (USW), which issued a statement that read in part: “At moments like these, we in the Labor Movement cannot be silent and must express our collective outrage over these brutal murders.”

For her part, Sara Nelson, the popular leader of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA)-Communication Workers of America (CWA), which helped end the government shutdown in 2019, offered a heartfelt, if less militant - condemnation of Floyd’s murder and the history of racism in the U.S.: “The rage coursing through the streets of Minneapolis and other cities is born from hundreds of years of oppression, exploitation and violence boiling over.  I do not cheer any form of violence, but we must be clear eyed about where core responsibility lies.” 

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