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In fight for its next contract, Seattle Police union dealt early political blow

This spring’s battles in the streets of downtown and Capitol Hill seem likely to carry over to the negotiating table. As Seattle’s next contract with its police officers is pounded out, the Seattle Police Officers Guild has lost the backing of the AFL-CIO’s local muscle.

The King County Labor Council voted Wednesday to remove the SPOG from its ranks:

The labor council, which collectively represents more than 100,000 workers in King County, generally provides advocacy for labor causes and endorses political candidates. Its vote to expel the police union symbolizes the stunning pace and impact of the protests against police brutality in Seattle and across the country since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on May 25.

At the end of 2018, the Seattle City Council finally approved a hotly debated new contract for the Seattle Police Officers Guild that critics said didn’t go far enough to cement needed reform. It was a six-year deal — but much of that was back-dated to cover years of negotiating without a deal.

By the end of 2020, Seattle will need a new deal. Many of the flashpoints from the 2018 agreement that brought much needed wage increases but also, critics said, rolled back progress on reforms, will again fire up for the process.

In last summer’s District 3 election, incumbent Kshama Sawant took the race while continuing her blistering attacks on SPD. “Far too often, the conversation on police accountability has had to start at the grassroots level in the wake of tragic events, with the political establishment rushing to catch up, and the SPOG standing in opposition,” Sawant said in a statement on her boycott of a union-hosted candidates forum. “I stand with the Movement for Black Lives, which has called for independently elected community oversight boards with full powers over police departments.”

Sawant was the lone vote against the council’s approval of the current contract last November.


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