United Steelworkers (USW) Vice President Fred Redmond and the USW Civil and Human Rights Department released the following statement on behalf of the union in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota:
Our union, the United Steelworkers, is great because of our solidarity, our respect for each other, and our unyielding commitment to justice, fairness and equality. The labor movement gains its strength from our common belief that all people are inherently valuable and have an undeniable right to a fair, just and dignified life, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
Many of us, as a result, were not only appalled but distraught to witness the killing of a Black man in Minnesota, George Floyd, at the hands of Minnesota police officers while lying on the ground handcuffed. One of the officers kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck as he begged for his life with those now familiar words, “I can’t breathe.”
We are a better nation than this.
At a time when the world is struggling through a global pandemic that is exposing vast disparities in health, well-being and economic security, the murder of George Floyd, which was preceded by the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, further illustrates the devastating impact racism and violence have on Black People in America in 2020.
Many of us are saddened, but too many of our African-American members are worried that they can be stopped on the way home from work or a union meeting and suffer the same fate as George Floyd.
At moments like these, we in the labor movement cannot be silent and must express our collective outrage over these brutal murders.
We call upon the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI to ensure constitutional enforcement of the law by state and local law enforcement agencies, by investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of crimes such as this.
We cannot fight the racism, hate and impunity that threaten the lives of Black people and other people of color unless the Justice Department takes the necessary actions to ensure full and real accountability.