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Unions Rally to Defund Police and Call for OPOA to Embrace Reform Unions Rally to Defund Police and Call for OPOA to Embrace Reform

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Approximately 150 union members and community leaders rallied June 17 at the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA, the police officer’s union) at 555 5th Street in Oakland to demand reform.

Service Employees International Union, United Service Workers West (SEIU USWW), UNITE HERE 2850, AFSCME 3299, Oakland Education Association, UFCW 5, CWA 9415, and UAW 2865 came together to issue this call. Collectively these unions represent over 100,000 workers throughout California. East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, San Francisco Jobs with Justice, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists also joined the call.

Placards read “Essential Workers for Black Lives Matter,” “Janitors for Black Lives Matter,” chants included “Si se Puede” “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace”, and the back of a tee-shirt read “Ya Basta’’.

Nadira Mambuki, Industry vice president Security Division SEIU USWW said “reform is important, and we want to show we want to meet with the Oakland Police Officers Association.”

Mambuki was born in Oakland at Highland Hospital and recalls police cruising through her neighborhood.

Ben May, a member of USWW and a security officer in downtown Oakland, said “I have firsthand experience of what over-policing means for the Black community. We need to move the police budget into things that my community actually needs.”

The organizations demanded Police Associations be expelled from local, state, and national labor federations.

“Our labor movement is about fighting for the common good and making sure that the voices of the unheard are heard,” Sanjay Garla, vice president of SEIU-USWW said. “What we need to do is invest in our communities and to make sure they are able to thrive, so we cannot advocate for policing over the lives of the vast majority of the labor movement, especially for our black members, our brown members, who are struggling to make ends meet.”

One specific ask is to move 50% of the Oakland police budget into community needs.

“The Labor Movement fights for the common good. We want all people regardless of the color of their skin to feel safe. Police Associations need to get in line with this vision or should be ejected from our labor federations” said Denise Solis, 1st Vice President, SEIU USWW.

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