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Saunders: A union contract is not a shield against police brutality

By Lee Saunders ·
Saunders: A union contract is not a shield against police brutality
AFSCME President Lee Saunders, right, with sons Lee Saunders Jr., left, and Ryan Saunders, center, at their home in Washington, D.C., about 10 years ago.

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt of an op-ed published by AFSCME President Lee Saunders in USA Today this week. The entire op-ed can be accessed here.

As an African American man who lived through the 1960s and now has two sons and three very young grandsons, the specter of systemic racism keeps me up at night. … There should be no controversy in declaring that the lives of my sons and grandsons matter. Black lives matter.

And as a union leader, I know the agony so many police officers feel when yet another senseless tragedy occurs. In denouncing the murder of George Floyd, Sgt. Jeffrey Reimer, who leads 2,000 AFSCME-represented police officers in Connecticut said, “What happened to Mr. Floyd was an absolute misuse of force. It never should have happened. The Minneapolis police officers involved in this heinous action put the rest of us at risk. There is no justification for what they did.”

Let’s be clear:

… Everyone should have the freedom to join a union, police officers included. Period. The tragic killing of George Floyd should not be used as a pretext to undermine the rights of workers.

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