This is Labor Day weekend and most of us get a day off. Most of us have a 5 day, 40 hour work week (not lawyers!). There are federal and state agencies to enforce laws about safe working conditions. Gone is child labor, the 7 or 6 day work week, & sweat shops (except for the underground and overseas ones).

We have Workers’ Compensation, unions (on the wane), minimum wages (though not enough), overtime pay, sick leave, employer funded insurance and pensions, and many other benefits (many of these are being eroded). They didn’t magically appear. Our parents, great and great great grand parents fought for them. They were beaten and killed in that struggle.

We are in their debt. Let’s honor them this Labor Day.

Labor had allies…Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and other progressives and “leftists”. Labor unions were called “communists” and “socialists” by corporations in an effort to discredit them and preserve corporate ability to exploit workers and hoard wealth.

The anti-labor corporations have also had allies….almost always Republicans and “the Right”. And standing with them have been the police. The beating and killing mentioned above was done by the police.

It started with private cops like the Pinkertons, but municipal police departments formed and were used by the monied elite to attack labor….literally…. with batons and guns.

Labor held strikes, marches, and fought hard to win many reforms. The reforms usually came with a blood price. The police murdered and maimed at the direction of the corporations and were almost never held accountable.

Police unions are not part of the labor movement. Let’s remember who the police have traditionally supported in US history……the rich, the anti-labor corporations who would still be running sweat shops if they could, the racists, and the Right. Now the cops are upset because unlike during most of our history, there is public outcry to hold them accountable.

There is a direct correlation between the police unions gaining collective bargaining power and their use of excessive force. This power enables the police to act with near impunity and not face the consequences of being fired one would expect in any other profession for such abuse. This was proven by an Oxford study as discussed in the New Yorker.

American Labor does not see police unions as part of the labor movement because of the long history of abuse by the police against workers and their abuse of the power unionization gives them. I won’t be honoring the cops’ long tradition of attacking labor or civil rights advocates this Labor Day.