Texas AFL-CIO: We Must Do More to Fight Racism — and We Will

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy & Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay issued this statement in the aftermath of nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police:

Our hearts break over the death of George Floyd. The Texas AFL-CIO joins in condemning Floyd’s outrageous death in Minneapolis and demanding justice. But we must do more.

Floyd, for many years a respected resident of Houston’s Third Ward, died tragically, preventably and as a direct result of atrocious police behavior. The protests also encompass the likes of Michael Ramos, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. These cases from recent years are the ugly tip of an iceberg of broader experiences faced by people of color on job sites, in neighborhoods, at traffic stops, in daily transactions, and even in homes. Our nation can never achieve economic justice if all Texans do not live together with racial justice. 

The stain of racism we must address dates more than 400 years and includes slavery, lynchings and suppression of rights that haunt us to this day. Black lives matter. The death of George Floyd reminds us again, painfully, that racism in our nation is not an aberration. It is a central feature of our history.

Yet our history also shows improvement and redemption are possible. We are appalled over the events of a few days ago but we hold out hope. We mourn, but we believe in a better future. We “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

To reach our true potential as a movement, the Texas AFL-CIO must get better, too. We always aspire to battle for justice for working families, advocating for civil rights, immigrant rights, gay rights and other drives for progress. But we must do more.

Toward that end, we commit ourselves to engage in dialogue focused on how the state labor federation and the Texas labor movement can become a more effective force in fighting racism. We intend to be guided by the experiences of our members and allies who have experienced racism in the many facets of their lives.

As always, we call for civil engagement. We categorically reject those on the fringes who are engaging in violence, destroying property and seeking to subvert the message of protestors. We will move heaven and earth to replace a President whose response is to promote more violence. We stand in solidarity with black-led peaceful protestors, all persons of color and all persons of good will who, seeking justice, will lead the way toward a different, better Texas.

We must do more. And we will.