Philadelphia CLUW statement in opposition to endorsement of Jewell Williams
Updated On: Apr 01, 2019
April 1, 2019
The Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women, standing in solidarity with all survivors of sexual harassment and sexual violence, demands accountability for perpetrators of such acts. Therefore, we reject the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO's decision to endorse Jewell Williams for Sheriff in the upcoming primary election. As a State Representative and now as Sheriff, Williams has been accused of sexual harassment by at least three current and former employees. One of the investigations was substantiated in an independent investigation; two resulted in monetary settlements to the victims.
As an organization of and for working people, the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO should be on the side of the working women that Williams harassed on the job. Instead, this endorsement sends a message that their workplace abuse does not matter. The decision to endorse Williams was made in accordance with the AFL-CIO's democratic process. As a constituency group within the AFL-CIO, Philly CLUW does not endorse candidates; however, we believe that this move reflects poorly on the local labor movement. In an effort to prevent another endorsement of this nature Philly CLUW will commit to attending and speaking out at future endorsement meetings, as a non-voting partner. We hope that the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO will also reflect on the endorsement process with the goal of facilitating more informed discussions and critical analysis about candidates. Philly CLUW is happy to offer our support to this end.
Accountability for public officials reaches much farther than Jewell Williams. State Senator Daylin Leach continues to hold office despite multiple allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, while other elected officials have had settlement payments made on their behalf out of public funds. This devaluing of women and other victims of sexual abuse must stop. While the accused have a right to due process, Philly CLUW believes that public officials who are credibly accused of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault should step down from office while proper investigations take place. They are elected to serve all of their constituents, and these allegations hinder that mandate. But beyond expecting sexual abusers to police themselves and step down from office, we must speak up and hold them accountable. The Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO has failed in that respect with the endorsement of Jewell Williams. Philly CLUW is proud to be a constituency group of the Council and values the work of the Council on behalf of working people, but we cannot support this endorsement or the message that it sends about the acceptance of unacceptable and abusive behavior.