Workers will go on ‘strike for Black lives’ amid reckoning on racism

Linking the fight against police brutality with a broader need for racial equity and justice, major unions and civil rights groups said Wednesday they will stage a nationwide walk out later this month to demand change.
The Strike for Black Lives will take place on July 20 in more than 25 cities, from Los Angeles to Boston, and could draw tens of thousands of workers who will walk off the job and stage other protests to call for better wages, benefits and an end to systemic racism both in the workplace and their communities.
“We cannot achieve economic justice without racial justice,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said in a statement announcing the walk out. “Today, in this national moment of reckoning, working people are demanding fundamental changes to America’s broken system… Until Black people can thrive, none of our communities can thrive.”
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The union is joining with more than a dozen other groups including the United Farm Workers, the Fight for $15, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and the Movement for Black Lives.
Workers at fast food restaurants, airports and other businesses will walk out for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, killing him in May.
Other actions will follow. Workers in Ferguson, Missouri will march to a memorial for Michael Brown, a Black teenager killed by police in 2014. Fast food and nursing home employees will gather to protest their lack of workplace protections as they work amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And rideshare drivers in Los Angeles will join workers in other industries to call on the nation’s second largest school district to remove police officers from campuses.
“Companies like McDonald’s cannot on the one hand tweet that ‘Black Lives Matter’ and on the other pay us poverty wages and fail to provide sick days and adequate” safety equipment, Angely Rodriguez Lambert, a McDonald’s worker in Oakland, California said in the statement. “We’re going on strike because McDonald’s and other fast-food companies have failed to protect us in a pandemic that has ravaged Black and brown communities across the country.”
Workers are calling on companies to lift pay, permit the forming of unions and advocate for greater health care that can help narrow the economic gap that hinders Black and brown communities. They want lawmakers to enact change as well.
“We must push toward economic uplift for everybody, poor and low-income Black people, white people, brown people, indigenous people, and Asian people,” Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, said in the statement. “In other words, everybody in, nobody out.”
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