July 11, 2016
By AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
New York, NY – Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the two African-American men who were shot by police within twenty-four hours of each other.
Racism plays an insidious role in the daily lives of all working people of color. This is a labor issue because it is a workplace issue; it is a community issue, and unions are the community. Philando Castile was a union member, and so his family is our family. Last year the AFL-CIO launched a Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to address the issues faced by our brothers and sisters of color and to take a hard look at ourselves to ensure we practice what we preach. The Commission aimed to educate working people on the way racism weakens the collective power of all working people.
It is haunting that only two years ago I delivered a speech in St. Louis in the aftermath of Mike Brown’s death denouncing systemic racism in the United States. Since then, hundreds of people have lost their lives in incidents involving police officers, and African-Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted. Labor cannot and will not sit on the sidelines when it comes to racial justice. It is not enough to simply say “Black Lives Matter.” We must and will continue to fight for reforms in policing and to address issues of racial and economic inequality.