Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Camden Police Department Layoffs

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 4, 2012.

City leaders in Camden, New Jersey, should learn a lesson from the NFL referee debacle. It took only a few short weeks for the entire nation to realize using replacement referees instead of highly trained union referees endangered player safety and diminished the game. It’s unfathomable that just days later, Camden city leaders still plan to fire all 273 police officers in the city’s force in favor of low-paid non-union mercenaries. Though replacement refs threatened a game we love, a replacement police force threatens lives and puts our families and communities at risk. The decision by Camden city leaders is irresponsible and unacceptable and should be rescinded immediately.

The issue is what to do about crime in Camden, which is especially wrenching in the wake of two heartbreaking murders of children in that city last month. The police, who have a voice on the job as all workers should, have been and should remain a part of the solution. New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech asked that “city officials reverse their decision to layoff these longstanding, experienced, and dedicated police officers, who put their lives on the line every day,” and he urged parties to return to the bargaining table.

Like the hardworking police in Camden, America’s public employees have been scapegoated by politicians for too long. At the local and national level, we have to address the real causes of our very serious crisis. We need jobs. We need investment in America. We need to level the playing field to support American manufacturing, so our children can have a bright future in Camden and every other American city. And we need experienced and well-trained police officers on the job in Camden every day of the year to protect our families.