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A Strike for Black Lives

Workers in 25 cities held a short strike to protest systemic racism in society and the economy

Brian Young's picture
Jul 20, 2020

Thousands of essential workers took part in a Strike for Black Lives on Monday, walking off the job for eight minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd.

The strike, which was organized by 44 groups including Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), United Farm Workers, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the Fight for $15. Strikes took place in 25 cities across the country. In addition to honoring Floyd, workers were demanding corporations and government take action to confront systemic racism in our society and economy that is holding back Black and brown communities across the country.

“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 PPE," said Angely Rodriguez Lambert, an Oakland McDonald's worker and leader in the Fight for $15 and a Union. “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. We’re going to keep joining together and speaking out until McDonald’s and other companies respond with actions that show they really value our lives."

The strikes are targeting a few employers including Amazon, Uber, Lyft, and McDonald’s. All of these companies have been pressured in the past over their low wages and sometimes dangerous working conditions.

The strikes serve as an important reminder that social justice causes and workers' rights go hand in hand. This was why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was marching with striking sanitation workers, just hours before he was murdered. According to the Economic Policy Institute, white workers made 26% more in 2019 than their black counterparts. This was the highest racial pay gap in 20 years. The problem is only getting worse and without people speaking out, it will only continue to get worse.

"We're demanding action from corporations and government to dismantle white supremacy and to ensure the health, safety, and economic well-being of every worker,” said James Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “This is a moment of reckoning, a chance to decide who we are as a nation. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the deadly impacts of structural racism in America’s economy and democracy.”

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