The SEIU 503 Board voted to stand in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and support its demands for racial and economic justice. We committed to amplifying the voices of Black leadership and Black-led civil rights organizations in our state to address long standing economic inequities and a criminal justice system that over-criminalizes the Black community and police brutality that threatens the lives of Black community members. Please read our board statement and commitment here.
SEIU 503 is a partner of Our Oregon, a coalition that has done so much for our members and our Union, including fighting anti-worker ballot measures, defending pro-worker ballot measures, demanding corporate accountability, and advocating for legislation that supports working families across our state. Our financial support of Our Oregon has been as part of campaigns to make sure corporations pay their fair share, supporting funding public services, and stopping anti-worker, anti-immigrant, and anti-democracy ballot initiatives.
Our Union’s support for the Movement for Black Lives and Our Oregon have recently come under attack from a front group of the Freedom Foundation, a corporate-backed organization that has dumped money into destroying unions, taking away your right to organize, and devastating working families. If you’ve received anything from Opt Out Today, please check your sources. The Freedom Foundation does not accurately define Our Oregon’s program or what they do, and its claims are completely out of context.
Our opponents are using this moment to try to divide us, but we believe the conversation about changes in our community needs to be deeper than slogans. In order to make real changes for Black communities, we must continue the conversation past buzzwords. “Defunding the police” means reimagining how we address public safety and, instead of pooling significant budget resources into a system that disproportionately harms Black and brown people, we can invest in services that build community and help all people thrive. For example, dispatching a mental health worker instead of a police officer to a person experiencing a mental health crisis has shown to save money and prevent unnecessary harm. Decades of underinvestment in public services have resulted in the police being the only response available for non-police matters and that’s not good for anyone.
SEIU 503 has always been committed to creating a just society for all people — Black, white, and brown — and our Union’s endorsement of the Movement for Black Lives is a recognition that not every member of our Union can move through our communities without fearing for their lives. We are committed to following through on our values to advance economic and social justice because we know that we can’t have economic justice without racial justice.