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King County’s largest labor organization votes to expel Seattle Police Officers Guild

A line of police officers surrounding City Hall on Wednesday, June 3. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The King County Labor Council voted Wednesday to expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) from its coalition of over 150 unions.

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The council — named for Martin Luther King Jr. and representing over 100,000 King County workers — made the decision late Wednesday night after a lengthy role call vote. The council needed 40,000 votes from delegates to move forward with the expulsion, garnering over 45,000 in favor of the move.

The council had first floated the possibility on June 4, when it affirmed its commitment to an “anti-racist union movement,” and passed a resolution calling on SPOG to affirm “that racism is a structural problem in our society and in law enforcement,” and participate in “a labor working space dedicated to promoting safety in our community and within law enforcement by addressing racism within SPOG.”

At the time, it warned that if those conditions were not met, it would convene on June 17 to vote on expulsion.

“The system of policing in our society is being demonstrated to be broken,” said Joe Mizrahi, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW 21 and a member of the MLK Labor Executive Board. “Labor can play a critical role, along with our community and elected leaders, in redefining the role of law enforcement in our society by following the lead of our sisters and brothers in the broader community.”

SPOG President Mike Solan issued an open letter after the vote on Wednesday, claiming that the police union had “addressed the demands” set forth in the council’s June 4 resolution, and that it will “remain open to working with the MLK Labor council” in the future.

Solan also labeled the decision to expel the union as “deeply disappointing and concerning,” as well as a “troubling political decision.”

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The King County Labor Council threw its support behind SPOG’s latest union contract approved in 2018 by Seattle City Council. That contract runs through the end of 2020, at which time SPOG will renegotiate without the labor council’s backing.

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