The following statement can be attributed to Kyle Bragg, president of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service union in the country.
New York, NY – We are deeply disappointed with the Department of Justice’s decision not to bring federal charges against officer Pantaleo in the murder of Eric Garner. As a union that represents thousands of working families of color, we know racial justice is a workers’ issue. After five years of waiting, New Yorkers are now reminded that the basic rights of people of color in our community and the value of our lives under the law are not as protected as they should be. Our thoughts and prayers are with Eric Garner’s mother, his surviving children and the rest of his loved ones, but we have also heard their demand that thoughts and prayers are not enough.
For 32BJ, racial equality is a clear union goal. As 32BJ members rallied with Eric Garner’s family last night in New York and at other protests across the country, we recommitted ourselves to taking strategic action with like-minded organizations, clergy and others dedicated to eradicating the deep-seeded racism, white supremacy and institutional bias that is undermining the progress that we have all worked so hard to secure. At a time when working people are facing attacks on all fronts—the ability to live in our country, provide for a family, drink clean water, breathe clean air, go to the doctor when sick, and cast a vote in order to be fully represented in government— the reality of fighting structural racism cannot be divorced from our other fights for justice. Working people will be more powerful when we are further united in all our struggles.
We need to move swiftly to create greater systems of accountability in order to rebuild the bond of trust between communities of color and those sworn to defend and protect us. We cannot live in yet another tale of two cities, where some communities are safe and secure while Black New Yorkers and others fear for their lives.
With more than 175,000 members, including 85,000 in New York, 32BJ is the largest property service workers’ union in the country.