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caption: Members of the Seattle Police Officers Guild packed the Council Chamber before a vote on a union contract between the guild and the city in 2018.
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Members of the Seattle Police Officers Guild packed the Council Chamber before a vote on a union contract between the guild and the city in 2018.
Credit: KUOW PHOTO/CASEY MARTIN

Pressure builds to expel Seattle police union from powerful labor council

Protests around the country against police brutality have highlighted the role police unions can play in maintaining the status quo.

Now, there's a petition drive to expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) from the King County Labor Council.

The King County labor council represents more than 150 unions and 100,000 workers, including Seattle police. The petitioners write that the labor council is currently “unable to speak out” against the actions of police as long as the police union is a part of the council.

“Historically, the labor movement has sacrificed Black and brown workers for the sake of a white labor movement,” said Isaura Jiménez Guerra, a petition organizer, union member and teacher in White Center.

They said the goal of the petition drive is to distance the local labor movement from policing, which is one element of "systemic racism in American society," also calling it “white supremacist labor that puts Black and brown lives in danger.”

Tamasha Emedi, a teacher and union member, said she has repeatedly been targeted by police for scrutiny, even though she had broken no laws.

"The problem is with our culture and our belief in this historically supremacist concept of policing," Emedi said.

Organizer said over 500 Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) union members have signed the petition so far.

In response to the petition, the Labor Council's Executive Board issued a press release on Thursday, threatening a vote on whether to expel the police union.

The Labor Council made a number of demands including "an affirmation by SPOG that racism is a structural problem in our society and in law enforcement that, until addressed, creates undue harm on BIPOC communities."

The Board gave SPOG a deadline of June 17 "to take these actions or else a vote of the delegate body would take place on the question of whether to remove them from the council."

The Seattle Police Officers Guild could not be reached for comment for this story.