This letter was published by The Chief on December 22, 2014: thechiefleader.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/letter-twu-silent-on-garner/article_8bc3ff6e-8608-11e4-bd87-df50ab67e5fc.html.
It is a shame that TWU President Samuelsen is sitting on his hands in the face of the growing mass protests against police violence that could mushroom into a broad struggle against racial, social and class injustice. In his four-sentence press release in response to the Staten Island Grand Jury’s refusal to indict the cops who murdered Eric Garner he wrote: “In federal court, in civil suit and in the next life we will bear witness until justice is served.” The struggle for justice demands action, especially from those with the resources to mobilize strongly, but Samuelsen hasn’t even tried to mobilize transit workers to attend the mass protests. Meekly bearing witness is not how unions like ours were created nor how any struggle has advanced. But that is the kind of failure of union leadership which has characterized Samuelsen's whole presidency.
Meanwhile, Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, is parading around praising the killer cop. Given that Samuelsen has invited Lynch to union events, Samuelsen has a special responsibility to condemn Lynch’s remarks in the strongest terms and to disassociate himself – and Local 100 members – from the organized defenders of racist, killer cops by campaigning for the removal of police associations from any group of organized labor. Unions exist to defend our living conditions against the bosses, but cop associations exist to defend their ability to oppress us and we should have nothing to do with them.
Above all, every resource of the unions should be geared toward building the movement against police violence and linking it up to broader issues of racism and economic injustice. Workers should look to every opportunity to hold their elected leaderships accountable to take such action.
Whereas, racist police murder is an injustice that requires a response from all working people, and
Whereas, our own union struggle faces the same oppressive social conditions and defending our own jobs, wages and working conditions requires standing up in defense of all working and poor people; therefore, be it
Resolved, that [this union body] call on its own members, [its parent body], and all other unions and community organizations to commit to building the largest possible movement against police violence, around demands which can unite workers, the poor and all those hit by the economic crisis, such as:
Justice for Michael Brown, Eric Garner and all victims of police violence!
Free All Arrested Protesters! Drop All Charges!
Jail the Killer Cops!
Workers Need Mass Action Against all the Capitalist Attacks! Jobs for all! Fight for $15!
Whereas, the organized connections of union workers to organizations of police officers which defend racist killers is a disgrace to the union movement, and
Whereas, the organization of police officers consistently defend policies such as Stop-And-Frisk and actions such as police murder and suppression of protests that are threats to the rights of all people, and
Whereas, just as unions consist of workers organized independently of the bosses, so should we organize independently of the bosses’ enforcers; therefore, be it
Resolved, that [this union body] call on [its parent body] and all other unions and community organizations to break their links to organizations of police officers such as the NYC PBA.