AFT-Oregon Executive Council Letter on Black Lives Matter

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We, the elected leaders of the American Federation of Teachers, Oregon, condemn the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and the unconscionable killings of so many other Black people by police throughout our country’s history. Equity and justice are explicitly stated values of AFT Oregon that we prioritize, and these brutal murders and attendant discrimination suffered by Black Americans are starkly opposed to these values. As members of the Executive Council, we stand with our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members, colleagues, and friends who are protesting these injustices and calling on the labor movement to act in solidarity against state violence.

As a result of our unwavering support for this movement, and in recognition of our power as one of the leading labor unions in Oregon, we issue the following proclamations and demands:

  1. We call for disarming, defunding, and ultimate removal of police forces in K-12 schools, universities, and college campuses across Oregon; and will use our material resources and public platform to support efforts to develop community-driven alternatives that ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. 
  2. We commit to support our affiliate locals, allied community organizations, and other groups in their efforts to disarm, defund, and ultimately abolish police forces, reinvesting those resources into community-led civic safety networks. 1
  3. We demand AFT-National President Randi Weingarten and Secretary Treasurer Loretta Johnson use their position as members of the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO to investigate authoritarian corruption of the International Union of Police Associations, per section X, title 8 of the AFL-CIO Constitution for its role in aiding and abetting racist and abusive police practices; and to pursue severe sanctions of the IUPA up to and including revoking their status as an affiliate organization of the AFL-CIO.

As a union of education professionals, we believe these demands are supported by decades of research from scholars and teachers who study the racist dynamics of America’s justice system. The labor movement has a moral duty, and a civic responsibility, to fight for fundamental changes to policing in this country, as well as recognizing its historic complicity in racism and police violence. We affirm the foundational labor principle that “An Injury to One is an Injury to All,” and we will use our power and resources to make good on that principle in our actions. 

In Solidarity,

The Executive Council of the American Federation of Teachers, Oregon


1  For details of what this means in practice, and answers to frequently asked questions on “police abolition,” see the following publication from “MPD 150” which is a community organization in Minneapolis.