The Strike for Black Lives – It’s Importance and Effects

Although the Black Lives Matter Movement was initially established in response to police brutality, progressive organizations and unions that have been organizing low-wage employees have taken the opportunity to use the platform to advocate for economic justice. At the forefront of these efforts is the SEIU, which has allocated millions of dollars to campaigns aimed at raising the minimum wage across America.

Since George Floyd was killed in police custody, there has been a rise in racial injustice movements focused on systemic racism as well as police killings. A great number of low wage employees who are demonstrating for better wages comprise people of color. The coronavirus pandemic has forced workers in the low-wage bracket, whether organized in unions or not, to hold demonstrations and demand for safety processes in the workplace, increased testing for infection, paid sick leave, and hazard pay. The message by the demonstrators is simple, if we are concerned about police brutality and police killings, we should also be concerned about individuals who are being put in lethal circumstances and dying due to economic exploitation.

Although the Strike for Black Lives demonstrations of 20th July 2020 addressed many of these demands, it seemed that the matter of race in the labor movement was being skirted. Another thing that wasn’t highlighted was how police unions protect rogue police officers. Apprentice systems that tend to be in favor of white people, especially in unions representing construction workers, firefighters, and dock workers also went unmentioned.

Although racial prejudice continues to persist in the union movement as it does in corporate America, events in 2020 such as the Strike for Black Lives have ushered in a new dawn for unions to rethink their structures. It is the beginning of an era that aligns racial justice and worker justice. The convergence of workers’ rights and racial justice and inclusiveness comes at a time when the labor movement’s higher echelons, which have been predominantly occupied by white people are becoming more diversified.

Persistent systemic and structural racism, a global COVID19 pandemic, and economic depression have converged in a perfect storm, and this has put the lives of the black working class at unprecedented high risk. This is why the Strike for Black Lives was so important, not just to America but to the entire world. It was a stand of solidarity among people from the racial, ethnic, political, and religious divide. It was a message to all that black lives matter, no more, nor less. The Strike for Black Lives has not only put scrutiny on police brutality, but has opened up the conversation about the weaknesses and biases of our existing systems, and this will encourage better and more inclusive systems.…

Companies Unite to Support the Movement

In Memphis, employees at AT&T call center and logistics held demonstrations over similar matters. Demonstrators called for the company not just to advertise their belief that black lives matter, but to actually take the necessary steps to protect their black workers. Some businesses encouraged their workers to participate in the Strike for Black Lives. For instance, Airbnb shared tips on how to join the demonstrations and allowed employees to take paid time off to participate in the Strike for Black Lives.

In New York, a member of the Teamsters Local 804 and Long Island City UPS driver Antoine Andrews, led over one hundred workers in a demonstration in front of their work premises. The aim of the demonstration was not to strike, but rather to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter, and challenge their employer to take inequality matters. Antoine Andrews, who has been working at UPS for more than 20 years, spoke on the importance of social justice, invoking John Lewis’ legacy and the famous Washington march for freedom and jobs in 1963. In his remarks, Andrew urged workers to do their moral responsibility whenever they witness something that is not just, right, or fair. He also added that whenever a person witnesses an injustice they have a variety of options; sit or stand; speak out and be heard, or remain quiet and be complicit. He also encouraged the workers to let it be known where they stand on the issue of systemic racism and to carry on the fight because it is not just for them but for their children and future generations as well.

In Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and many other cities in California, demonstration for the Strike for Black Lives were organized by the Service Employees International Union, which is one of the largest unions in America, (as well as American Coradius International) most of whose close to two million members comprise essential low-wage employees who have been among the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic and continue to work amid the pandemic. The demonstrations aimed to highlight support for racial justice by the labor movement in the wake of systemic racism and police brutality which has led to the loss of black lives including that of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May 2020.

In South LA, a caravan of several hundred trucks and cars drove through the streets with signs of Strike for Black Lives on their windows written in Spanish and English. One of the banners by the demonstrators even called for the abolition of the USC police. The LA demonstrators assembled on Crenshaw Boulevard, at a McDonalds, where they blocked the road for 8 minutes and forty-six seconds–the same amount of time that a white police officer held his knee above the neck of George Floyd before he died.

Several hundred strikers in San Francisco banged their drums as they marched on City Hall hoisting banners with messages such as “You should not have to die to feed your family,” “Essential workers for Black Lives Matter,” “Justice for janitors,” and “Share the prosperity.”…

Strike for Black Lives – A Very Meaningful Protest

The Strike for Black Lives was a national event that took place on 20th July 2020. Tens of thousands of people across America walked off their work in solidarity with the movement Black Lives Matter, with aim of bringing more scrutiny to the systemic racism and income inequality which the event organizers believed had become even more prevalent during the COVID19 pandemic. The Strike for Black Lives was composed of workers from various industries. Members of the American Federation of Teachers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union, and various other labor and political organizations participated in the event.

The 20th July 2020 campaign pressed for an unambiguous proclamation that Black Lives Matter, from political and business leaders, and urged officials elected to office to reimagine America’s democracy and economy with civil rights in mind. The campaign organizers also urged businesses to eliminate economic exploitation, racism, and white supremacy, and ensure that union organizing is accessible to all.

In Washington, participants of the Strike For Black Lives assembled on Capitol Hill in support of the Heroes Act, also known as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. Charles E. Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader at the time joined the strikers outside Trump Towers in New York. In one nursing facility outside LA, health workers organized walkouts spread out through multiple shifts. Other workers participated in a car caravan down the major thoroughfare, President Barack Obama Boulevard, on the city’s westside.

Organizers of the Strike for Black Lives encouraged workers who could not leave their jobs and take a knee or take a break for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, which is the exact amount of time that a police officer in Minneapolis knelt on George Floyd’s neck leading to his death. George Floyd’s death sparked outrage in America and across the globe and led to protests, sparking calls for racial justice Nationwide.

There are no exact figures on the number of people who walked of the job to participate in the Strike for Black Lives, but it is estimated that about 1500 janitors demonstrated together in San Francisco, while six thousand nurses from more than eighty nursing facilities in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey walked out of their workplaces in the nationwide demonstrations that took place in two hundred cities.

Demonstrators in various cities shunned their employers’ discrimination of hourly workers, most of who comprise a black population. Employees at McDonald’s marched outside Saint Louis calling for better wages, while in Detroit workers demanded more protections to be put in place at work against the coronavirus.
In a statement, McDonald stated that it had distributed over a hundred million face masks, and improved over fifty restaurant processes to ensure the safety of its employees in the workplace. McDonald’s also stated that many of its branches would award bonuses and raises to employees. The company further said that they are committed to supporting causes of social justice, and racial equality, and stand in solidarity with black people around the world where they are proud to provide employment opportunities while getting key insights from employees that make the company’s system better. In the statement, the company also affirmed their belief that black lives matter, and said that it was their duty to listen, learn, and push for a more inclusive and equitable society.…