featured Labour Racism

Five reasons why the labour movement should be championing the fight to defund and abolish the police

Halifax City Hall. Photo Robert Devet

Five reasons why the labour movement should be championing the fight to defund and abolish the police:

1. Cops always take the bosses’ side

Who broke up your last picket-line? Who arrests your leaders and activists when they defy anti-union injunctions? Who clears the way for scabs and bad-faith bargaining? The police have never been a friend to labour; structurally they can’t be. Every dollar we defund from police departments now is a dollar that can’t be used on our own repression in the future. This is the most strategic chess move we can make to shift the balance of forces in society in favour of the working class.

2. Cops are stealing our jobs, literally

Police often perform work that our members would be much better suited to take on. Counselors, youth workers, Mental Health specialists, parks and recreation, nurses, community organizers, conflict mediators, educators, community outreach workers, rehabilitation, continuing care workers. Think about the Billions of dollars our society spends on police being shifted into Community Care work that is life-affirming, proactive, and that would be performed BY MEMBERS OF OUR OWN UNIONS!

3. Backing this movement makes our members stronger

Union members are already on the front-lines in the fight to defund police, mostly in an unofficial capacity. Throwing our union movements institutional power behind the cause validates the work of our union activists and empowers us to build stronger labour-community alliances. Stronger activist members who have honed their skills and developed their capacity through this struggle becoming more involved in our unions in turn makes us more powerful on the shop floor, during campaigns, and for workplace actions.

4. It is a stronger bargaining position

Think about it. When we go into bargaining with our employers do we ask for the least amount of change we are willing to begrudgingly accept as the starting point of negotiations? Of course not. We are far more likely to win a “compromise” of reform and gradual defunding of police if we demand abolition, than if we demand reform and gradual defunding from the outset.

5. Solidarity is our greatest weapon

Solidarity isn’t a slogan, it is a commitment to collective struggle. The labour movement has often been at the forefront of struggles against systemic and structural racism and we have the perfect opportunity right now to show what real solidarity looks like compared to the hollow performative allyship displayed by so many corporations and politicians. Defunding and abolishing the police is the clearest specific demand being made by Black activists and organizers right now, so let’s back them up in a real way.

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