Unions must dive into anti-racism fight, including police association, says one union leader

MONTREAL — After nine officers of colour with Montreal police asked their union to back them up in the fight against racism, another union leader says it’s right to involve more unions in the push for change.

The officers wrote to the head of the Montreal Police Brotherhood about a “culture of silence” that makes it hard to talk about the problem.

They asked him to acknowledge that systemic racism exists on the force.

One Black union leader—though not with the police association—says that asking for systemic racism to be acknowledged is a good step, and they picked the right place to do it.

Racism is often a workplace issue, and unions are uniquely positioned to help them restructure and form helpful working groups while protecting individual employees, said Marc-Édouard Joubert from the Quebec Federation of Workers.

The demand for certain words to be used is not about semantics, said Joubert. It’s more than just an annoyance to see leaders, including Quebec Premier François Legault, refusing to admit to systemic racism.

“People say, well, why do you have to fight just for a few words?” said Joubert in an interview with CTV News.

“It’s not the fact that we’re fighting for a few words. We’re naming a reality, and we have a hard time when the [premier] of a provice does not want to acknowledge the existence of a problem.”

If someone like Legault can’t use “the real words,” he asked, “how are you going to put in place an action plan to remove the problem, if you can’t even accept that it exists?”

Watch the full segment with Marc-Édouard Joubert in the video above.

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