To all the corporate apologists — You will not use my police reform legislation to undermine unions.
Unions are essential. Without them, the inequality plaguing our society and City would be significantly worse. Unions have been weakened by unrelenting attacks by the GOP and their corporate benefactors and institutions. Collective bargaining and the meet and confer right are sacred.
This week, when I announced legislation to add transparency to the collective bargaining and meet and confer process when the City negotiates with the Police Officers Association, I worried that corporate-friendly entities like the Chronicle Editorial Board would pounce on the legislation to attack unions writ large. Sure enough, like clockwork, that is exactly what came to pass.
Let me be clear — I will not allow anyone to use my legislation focused on reining in a fraternal organization that has used its collective power to stop countless efforts to address longstanding attacks against the working class, LGBTQ, immigrant, and people of color to be equated with unions that give nurses, teachers, longshore workers, laborers, and countless others a seat at the table and dignity in their workplace.
Police reform is about working-class justice. The people who we have witnessed the police kill in cold blood are almost always members of the working class. The statistics that show time and time again that it is Black and Brown men and women stopped, harassed, and attacked by the police way out of proportion with their population size is an attack on the working class. When we fight and win to protect unions we fight and win to protect the same people who have been brutalized by the systemically racist policing system in this country that the POA has spent decades protecting.
The POA has been abusing the meet and confer process, with the complicity of San Francisco’s Department of Human Resources, by misrepresenting as working conditions what are, in fact, urgently needed reforms to use of force and other policing policies and practices. Greater transparency will allow elected officials and the public to understand why it took two and a half years to finish the meet and confer process around Body Worn Cameras and would allow us to craft legislation, apply public pressure, and if needed advocate for personnel changes so that this City could enact police reform measures with desperate urgency that the whole world is demanding.
As I craft this vital legislation moving forward, I will seek to shed light on how both the City and POA have collaborated to stop and slow essential police reform. What I will not do and will fight to prevent is allowing my legislation to be used by the same people who couldn’t care less about police reform to attack other unions.
Prior to becoming District 9’s Supervisor, I was a non-profit employment attorney representing this country’s most exploited workforce — day laborers, domestic workers, undocumented immigrant restaurant and retail workers. Winning actual justice for this workforce was virtually impossible. All I ever hoped for these workers was to one day get a job where they could join a union — the only way they would ever have voice, respect, and decent conditions at their workplace.
None of these workers had the power to detain, arrest, seize property, and use deadly force against others. To the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board and any other entity that wants to use my legislation for your longstanding attack on unions on behalf of the ruling class — we won’t let you conflate issues that have nothing to do with one another. We can demand tools to hasten police reform without weakening our most essential working-class institutions.