Today is the Strike For Black Lives, and organizers say tens of thousands are set to walk out of work in more than two dozen US cities to protest systemic racism and economic inequality.
Labour unions, along with social and racial justice organizations from New York City to Los Angeles, will participate in a range of planned actions. Where work stoppages are not possible for a full day, participants will either picket during a lunch break or observe moments of silence to honour Black lives lost to police violence, organizers said.
“We are … building a country where Black lives matter in every aspect of society, including in the workplace,” Ash-Lee Henderson told Aaron L. Morrison for the Associated Press.
“The Strike for Black Lives is a moment of reckoning for corporations that have long ignored the concerns of their Black workforce and denied them better working conditions, living wages and healthcare,” said Henderson, who is an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives.
Among the strikers will be essential workers: nursing home employees, janitors and delivery men and women. Fast food, ride-share and airport workers are also expected to take part in planned events.
At noon in each US time zone on Monday, workers are expected to take a knee for about eight minutes, the amount of time prosecutors say white police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd’s neck before Floyd died.
Strikers are demanding sweeping action by corporations and government to confront systemic racism and economic inequality that limits mobility and career advancement for many Black and Hispanic workers, who make up a disproportionate number of those earning less than a living wage.
Specifically, they are calling on corporate leaders and elected government officials to use executive and legislative power to guarantee people of all races can thrive. That demand includes raising wages and allowing workers to unionize to negotiate better health care, sick leave and child care support.
In Manhattan, essential workers will gather outside of the Trump International Hotel to demand the Senate and president Donald Trump pass and sign the HEROES Act.
The House-passed legislation provides protective equipment, essential pay and extended unemployment benefits to workers who have not had the option of working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is expected to rally with workers.