Labor Joins the Conversation

Central Labor Councils are asked to hold conversations with protesters and community leaders during the current upsurge over racial justice. On June 11, during the weekly AFL-CIO communicators’ meeting, the AFL-CIO Director of Civil, Human & Women's Rights, Nakisha Lewis, listed the multi-faceted labor response to the situation. Her committee’s proposals had just been approved by the General Executive Board. One of them, “called for CLC’s to engage in meaningful conversations with members of the community.”

What Are They Saying?

On June 10, Jobs with Justice hosted a meeting of national organizations fighting for racial justice. They called for national demonstrations on Juneteenth, June 20, and June 21. The first day emphasizes investing in our communities. The second day is for racial justice, and the third day is for the resignation of President Trump.

Nationwide racial justice leaders

Local civil rights leaders from Dallas spoke at an on-line meeting on June 10. They presented a long document with 10 major suggestions for improvement for Dallas police. But the conversation was mostly about the recent slogan, “defund the police.” The slogan basically means to take tax money presently being used for police and convert it to community use.

Rev Stovall and John Fullinwider

 John Fullinwider, is pictured at right with Reverend Charles Stovall. Fullinwider has been a community and racial justice leader in Dallas for at least 45 years. He began by saying, “The City of Dallas has one of the worst records of any city in the country.” One of Fullinwider’s “Mothers Against Police Brutality” colleagues, Sara Mokuria, said, “Sixty percent of the City’s budget is going into policing so we should look for a new direction.”

Probably the most respected civil rights leader in the city, Reverend Doctor Frederick D. Haynes III, said, “The history of policing is rooted in the slave patrols. They were never designed to serve and protect Black people.” He went on to say that “bad apples” is no way to understand the problem: “We have so many bad apples that if your apple tree was producing so many bad apples you would have to say, ‘what’s wrong with the tree, what’s wrong with the orchard?'”

Rev Dr Frederick Haines

Haynes does not think we have a broken system. He said, “We see it as a broken system but in reality it is working the way it was designed to work.” The Reverend has often helped with labor events. He is pictured with Jeanne Schulze and Mark York of the Dallas AFL-CIO.

As is often the case in these discussions, the topic soon arrived at police unions. John Fullinwider said, “They (police associations) have opposed every reform that has been proposed.” He particularly disliked the big effect that the police association has on politics: “We have long encouraged the Dallas City council to de-politicize the police.”

On the following day, June 11, the Dallas newspaper lead editorial called for limitations on police unions. The AFL-CIO has been pressured to end their relationships to police unions, but President Trumka has said that, instead, they will hold all organized police to a high standard of excellence concerning racial justice.

Trumka also said, on June 11, that the AFL-CIO must take the lead in the fight for racial justice. They are supporting the call for the resignation of the Minneapolis Chief of Police, the head of the federal justice system, and the military head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Even though working families desperately need passage of the HEROES Act in Congress, the AFL-CIO has added racial justice to our demands in the June 17 Day of Action. Some of the AFL-CIO placards say, “Black Lives Matter.”