Cops “masquerade as members of the working class…”
The International Union of Police Associations, a union comprised of law enforcement officers “from California to Massachusetts, Minnesota to Florida, and across the Mid-West” has been a member of the AFL-CIO since 1979.
Now, however, a large California-based affiliate of the United Auto Workers wants the IUPA kicked out of the union federation.
Claiming police have “utilized union resources to defend brutality and anti-Blackness,” United Auto Workers Local 2865’s Black Interests Coordinating Committee (BICC), penned a letter calling on the AFL-CIO to end its affiliation with IUPA.
In its letter, the UAW affiliate states:
We, UAW Local 2865, call on the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to end their affiliation with the International Union of Police Associations. It is our position that this organization is inimical to both the interests of labor broadly, and Black workers in particular. Historically and contemporarily, police unions serve the interests of police forces as an arm of the state, and not the interests of police as laborers. Instead, their “unionization” allows police to masquerade as members of the working-class and obfuscates their role in enforcing racism, capitalism, colonialism, and the oppression of the working-class. We ask that the AFL-CIO recognize this history and take steps to serve the interests of its Black workers and community members.
The letter goes on to state that “police unions fail to meet the criteria of a union or a valid part of the labor movement.”
While it is true that police are workers, and thus hypothetically subject to the same kinds of exploitation as other laborers, they are also the militarized, coercive arm of the state….The police force exists solely to uphold the status quo.
Policing in the U.S. has always served the needs of colonialism, racism, and capitalism by protecting the property of those who would steal land and exploit the labor of others. Neither the property of indigenous people nor the products of the labor of both workers and slaves has ever come under protection of the institution of the police. It has only ever been the property of the powerful that the police protect. Maintaining this system of relations is the so called “order” that police have sworn to defend.
“If labor is to ever truly exert its power and challenge the corporate rule of the U.S.,” the UAW affiliate writes, “we will need to break the illusion that the police are part of the family of unions that make up organized labor.”
UAW Local 2865 represents 13,000 teaching assistants and other student workers throughout the University of California.
According to In These Times, the UAW’s Black Interests Coordinating Committee (BICC) formed in December 2014 “in response to the acquittals of police officers in the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner and is largely inspired by recent actions in the Black Lives Matter movement.”