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.