On Wednesday, The New York Times reported on the case of Gabriel Acevero, a Trinidadian-American state representative in Maryland who worked for a union local — and claims he was fired from the position over police reform.
“His union, Local 1994 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, represents thousands of Black and Latino workers in food services and at a variety of government agencies. It also includes a small portion of workers in law enforcement,” reported Noam Scheiber. “In mid-June, Mr. Acevero filed a formal charge with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the union of illegally firing him because of his reform advocacy.”
“The union local’s president, Gino Renne, said he fired Mr. Acevero because of his antagonistic attitude at a meeting to discuss the issue,” said the report. “But he also said Mr. Acevero’s stand complicated ‘our obligation to represent our members.'”
Police unions have come under intense scrutiny following the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks, both over a number of racist incidents from union leaders and their role in blocking police accountability and the termination of problem officers. But, according to the report, there are tensions throughout the entirety of organized labor.
“While the largest police organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, has only a tenuous relationship with the labor movement, many unions count law enforcement officers among their diverse membership,” said the report. “Leaders of these unions acknowledge the urgency of reform, but fear that distancing themselves from law enforcement colleagues, or limiting their rights, could weaken labor and create pressure to roll back protections for other workers.”
“The national A.F.L.-C.I.O. — which counts the International Union of Police Associations, with its tens of thousands of members, as an affiliate, in addition to officers in other unions — has endorsed a wide-ranging police reform agenda,” said the report, including bans on chokeholds and no-knock warrants. However, “In at least one prominent instance, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s position appears contradictory. The federation formally backed a recent resolution passed by Seattle’s labor council calling on the local police union to become a partner in reform or risk expulsion. Yet the A.F.L.-C.I.O. leadership opposes the expulsion of police unions, a step taken by the Seattle council in mid-June.”
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