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National 'Strike for Black Lives' to fight racism, low wages

By
Don Jacobson
Demonstrators participate in a Juneteenth rally near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on June 19. The date, which marks the official end of slavery in the United States, took on added significance this year following the death of George Floyd. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Demonstrators participate in a Juneteenth rally near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on June 19. The date, which marks the official end of slavery in the United States, took on added significance this year following the death of George Floyd. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 20 (UPI) -- Thousands of workers in dozens of cities nationwide will walk off the job briefly on Monday to demand companies and governments take action to defeat systemic racism, in an event billed as the "Strike for Black Lives."

Major unions and social organizations said the strike will last for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a reference to the length of time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee onto George Floyd's neck before he died on May 25.

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Those unable to strike are asked to join supporters, take a knee or remain silent for the length of time beginning at noon.

Labor groups -- including the Service Employees International Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, American Federation of Teachers and United Farm Workers -- support the Strike for Black Lives, as well as demands to end white supremacy, calls for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, allowing workers to form unions, sick leave and expanded healthcare coverage.

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"From our nation's founding, white supremacy and economic exploitation have been inextricably linked," SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement. "In this national moment of reckoning, working people are demanding fundamental changes to America's broken system."

Union members, Black Lives Matter and other groups are scheduled to hold rallies in 25 cities Monday.

In Chicago, workers plan to gather at the James R. Thompson Center and march through the loop to a downtown McDonald's restaurant.

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"We've heard enough talking and platitudes," pro-labor group Fight for 15 Chicago said. "If our bosses think [Black lives matter], then they should show us by giving us better wages and guaranteeing our safety on the job."

In Detroit, food workers demanding a $15 minimum wage will strike outside a McDonald's on the city's east side to demand the company demonstrate commitment by raising wages, guaranteeing paid sick leave and providing safety equipment to workers.

Nursing home employees at six facilities in the Detroit metro area will walk off the job briefly. They say owners are treating workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis as "disposable, not essential."

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In St. Paul, Minn., nursing home workers will strike Monday after months of failed bargaining with their employer.

The workers will join a caravan that will stop at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where they will be joined by protesting airport workers seeking a $15 minimum wage and a "just and safe" plan to return people to public and travel spaces.

Protesters march for social justice

The Surrogate's Court building exterior remains vandalized while Occupy City Hall protests continue outside City Hall in New York City on June 30. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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