Don’t these people know that they are just alienating their potential friends and allies?

The SF police union is calling out the ILWU over a Black Lives Matter protest. Why?
The SF police union is calling out the ILWU over a Black Lives Matter protest. Why?

By Tim Redmond

MAY 12, 2105 – The San Francisco Police Officers Association, not content to bully the Board of Supervisors and the Democratic County Central Committee, is now attacking the San Francisco Labor Council and the ILWU.

And once again, it’s all about a rather mild set of statements that never criticized the SFPD or any local officer.

POA President Marty Halloran sent out a missive yesterday to Tim Paulson, the executive director of the Labor Council, and Mike Casey, the president, denouncing the council for even considering a resolution endorsing the ILWU’s May 1 action in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The resolution was introduced by ILWU Local 10 member Marcus Holder, and called for “support of the May 1 union action to stop police killings of people of color.”

The longshore union moved a scheduled work-stoppage day to May 1 to close down the Port of Oakland for about eight hours to support the protests.

Nothing in the resolution mentions any specific police department. It simply notes, correctly, that “there is an epidemic of police killing of people of color, mainly black and brown people, across the country.”

It simply asks the Labor Council to “endorse this critical labor action.”

The measure never got to a vote because the Labor Council was unable to get a quorum at the April meeting where it was introduced. It was tabled at the Executive Committee. So the thing never passed.

Meanwhile, in the days before the May 1 action, an ILWU organizer, Stacey Rodgers, made a fairly straightforward statement to the Chronicle about why her union was working with the activists demanding an end to the brutality and killings:

“I am proud of my union’s history of resistance, and I felt it was time labor came out loudly against police terror,” union organizer Stacey Rodgers said in a statement.

That’s it.

But the SFPOA was incensed, apparently, and the letter that appeared on the group’s May 11 email blast called out Paulson, Casey, and Rodgers, denounced the local labor leaders as “unprofessional” and railed against the ILWU organizer by name:

Dear Mr. Paulson & Mr. Casey,

The recent comments made by Stacey Rodgers, in SF GATE on April 28th, and language within the Labor Council resolution of May 1st, are simply unconscionable.

As brothers and sisters within the Labor community, it is hard to fathom why you would choose not to pick up the phone to discuss this with me first. I understand politics, I understand the need to send messages to your constituency, but this is fear mongering and not constructive in any manner.

I would expect a greater sensitivity and understanding of the work we do every day to keep San Franciscans safe. This is immature and lazy and if you were truly interested in a discussion around how to work together on these issues you would not have taken this approach.

I expected more from you both. Casting negativity on an entire department based on individual actions, especially one that promotes diversity and support for affinity groups within our organization is both unprofessional and reprehensible.

Martin Halloran

SFPOA President

 

Now: Let’s remember the resolution never even came to a vote. And it never said a single word about the SFPD or suggested that a single SFPD office was guilty of anything (although some of them clearly were, and are).

“A lot of resolutions come before the Labor Council,” Paulson said. “This one was tabled.”

There was no “negativity on an entire department” – no department was ever mentioned.

I called Rodgers, and she told me she was baffled, particularly since she said she doesn’t know anyone at the SFPOA and never said anything about the department. “It’s unconscionable for them to call me out like that,” Rodgers told me. “But the ILWU is not in the least bit intimidated by this.”

Casey said he would like to see the Labor Council be able to work with the POA. “We believe that black lives matter, and we will stand up for that, and we can do that in a way that doesn’t alienate and demonize every cop in the city.”

Yes, that’s entirely possible. If the POA wouldn’t be so reactionary. This stuff can’t be good for the members of the union – or for labor in San Francisco.