The USW Local 3657 Executive Board unanimously passed a resolution today regarding the murder of George Floyd.
USW LOCAL 3657 RESOLUTION
REGARDING THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD BY MINNEAPOLIS
POLICE AND THE DUTY OF ALL WORKERS TO DISMANTLE RACISM
United Steelworkers (USW) Local 3657 is committed to fighting for civil rights. As our goals have always been to empower workers, fight for equality in our union and communities, encourage political action, organize workers into unions and support all working people, we are saddened and outraged to witness the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officers while handcuffed on the ground. This can only be described as an egregious attack on civil rights and human dignity.
We recognize that punishing the perpetrators who have taken black lives is a necessary but insufficient measure for achieving justice. The killing of George Floyd did not happen in isolation. Most recently, it was preceded by that of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. It has been followed by the police killing of Tony McDade in Florida and will be followed by countless more if workers’ organizations such as our own do not take up the work of combating racism in communities and institutions throughout the United States.
We, more broadly, name these killings within the context of 400 years of structural, political, and legal systems of anti-Black racism in the United States and around the world. Centuries of forced and stolen labor and unended decades of denying of civil, economic, and voting rights prop up the foundations of the present crisis: the mass incarceration of Black people, the use of militarized police forces in poor, Black and Brown neighborhoods, the ongoing, disproportionate underfunding of public schools and services, the dismantling of the historical power of Black industrial workers by outsourcing good, union jobs, and the fractured, profit-driven health care system that ignores the needs of Black and Brown neighbors. As we pass 100,000 deaths in the United States due to COVID-19, we recognize the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on Black communities for these reasons and many more.
We firmly agree with USW Vice President Fred Redmond and the USW Civil and Human Rights Department’s statement: “At moments like these, we in the labor movement cannot be silent and must express our collective outrage over these brutal murders.” We agree because we recognize the working class in the United States is disproportionately black and brown. Black workers in particular are the most likely to be represented by unions: 14.5 percent of black workers age 18 to 64 are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, compared with 12.5 percent of white workers and 10.1 percent of Hispanic workers.
We recognize the duty of all workers to fight for the structural transformations in our society necessary to achieve justice for Black lives. Achieving justice for Black people is fundamental to achieving justice for all working people. So long as the long shadow of systemic racism, white supremacy, and state violence threaten Black communities with death and discrimination based on the color of their skin, we will never build enough power to ensure the dignity and well-being of all working people.
Our Pittsburgh community has experienced racist police violence in the murder of 18-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. in 2018 in East Pittsburgh. We recognize white supremacist violence extends beyond state actors with the murder of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018.
As a community, we can and must strive to be Stronger than Hate.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
That USW Local 3657 stands in solidarity with the family and friends of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and all whose loved ones have been slain in an environment of fear and hostility;
That the Executive Board of USW Local 3657, on behalf of the more than 200 members of our local union, rejects racism and white supremacist behavior because it shatters our unity, and destroys our strength as fellow workers — brothers, sisters, and siblings in labor;
That USW Local 3657 urges elected officials and policy makers at all levels to work together in their communities to create an environment of justice for all, not just for the privileged few;
That USW Local 3657 remains committed to fighting for justice and equality and will continue working to break down the systems of racial oppression;
That USW Local 3657 remains committed to holding workshops for our members and the wider community on racial and socioeconomic injustice; and
That the Executive Board of USW Local 3657 urges members to provide any material support and/or volunteer time they can to organizers working to stop police violence in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and cities across the United States facing this injustice.
That USW Local 3657 urges all elected officials, policymakers and members to not only remove all rhetoric of hate, prejudice, racism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and all other forms of identity-related targeted hatred from their speech and written word, but also to confront it where we encounter it. As Angela Davis taught us, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.”