National labor unions have expressed their disappointment with the grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo. police officer who fatally shot a young black man.
The Communications Workers of America declared in a press release, “By declining to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, the legal system has failed the family of Mike Brown and the entire Ferguson community.”
Joe Hansen, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, made a call for action in a statement, “The simple truth is that there are too many Michael Brown’s in America needlessly having their lives cut short and we in the labor movement have a responsibility to take action.”
“This tragic case must spark a renewed discussion about race, class, and inequality. We can no longer afford to sweep these important issues under the rug because they might make some people uncomfortable,” Hansen declared.
“We must be a force for good jobs, safe streets, and justice under the law. We need to take a hard look at all of our social and political institutions and ask whether they are really serving the common good,” he continued.
“The grand jury decision was the end of a process, but it also must be the beginning of a conversation. We owe that to the Brown family, the community of Ferguson, and our entire nation,” Hansen concluded.
Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, declared in a statement, “The reactions to today’s grand jury decision in the case of the shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown reflect a deeper feeling that our justice system is biased against communities of color.”
“While we can all agree that justice must take its course, we cannot deny or marginalize the perception that the system, itself, is not yet color blind,” he continued.
Trumka went on to say, “As a labor movement, we have begun working with local community organizations to address issues of racial and economic inequality that surround Ferguson and so many other neighborhoods like it.”
“We will continue that work. We are dedicated to supporting organizing efforts that reinforce unity, healing, and fairness in policing,” Trumka added.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry also issued a statement: “The grand jury’s decision deepens those wounds and amplifies even more the disproportionate and disparate injustices experienced by communities of color. These injustices reverberate through all communities and take our nation another step away from a fair and just society.”
“Our disappointment in today’s decision does not extinguish the hope in our hearts for a better America for all our children regardless of where they were born or in which zip code they live,” she noted.
“Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. All lives matter. The dream of America can never be fully realized until justice and safety prevail in every community across our country. The Department of Justice must prioritize the investigation into the murder of Michael Brown,” Henry concluded.
However, not everyone shares organized labor’s perspective.
Stan Greer, a senior research associate at the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, argued that unions should take a look in the mirror.
Greer told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “This underscores just how AFL-CIO and SEIU union are out of touch with rank-and-file workers, and is particularly rich considering Big Labor’s legacy of coercion, violence, and racial discrimination.”
Greer added, “Perhaps instead of focusing on division and racially-charged politics, these union bosses should focus on how their government-granted monopoly bargaining and forced dues powers hurt workers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.”
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