Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle) released the following statement in opposition to the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) contract, saying it would roll back hard-won, and still all-too-limited, police accountability measures passed last year. The SPOG agreement is scheduled to come before the City Council for a vote this afternoon.
In announcing her opposition to the SPOG contract, Sawant is also joining with more than two dozen community organizations and the Community Police Commission, all of whom have publicly opposed the contract in recent days. Councilmember Sawant, as a rank-and-file member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789, has added her name to a letter to the City Council, signed by more than 35 union leaders and activists, calling on the Council to turn down the agreement and send it back to the bargaining table.
“As a rank-and-file union member myself, I support the wage improvements that are contained in the tentative collective bargaining agreement between the City and SPOG. I think it is unfortunate that other public service workers, such as educators and EMTs, have not gotten such significant wage increases in this increasingly unaffordable city,” Councilmember Sawant said.
“However, along with a growing number of community members, I am deeply troubled by the rollback of police accountability in this contract. In May 2017, the City Council unanimously adopted urgently needed police accountability legislation. While this ordinance was an important step forward, it did not go nearly far enough. And now, instead of the legislation being fully incorporated into the collective bargaining agreement as promised, key accountability measures are proposed to be significantly weakened.
“The labor movement has a proud history of standing with working people facing racism and oppression. In its best traditions, it has fought against how the ruling class uses the police to oppress and divide sections of the working class. It is with this tradition, and with my fellow union members in Seattle who are opposing this contract in its current form, that I stand in calling for the contract to be renegotiated and all police accountability measures restored.
“I urge Council President Harrell to withdraw the contract from the Council agenda this afternoon, and to join with me in calling on Mayor Durkan to expeditiously return to the bargaining table with SPOG. The parties are fully capable of quickly bargaining an agreement that provides pay raises and restores all previously established measures for police accountability. I agree with the many Seattle-area union members I’ve heard from in recent days who have said that the rights of community members are not bargaining chips to be traded away.
“However, if President Harrell does not withdraw this item, and the Council moves forward with a vote on the SPOG contract today, I will vote no.”