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STRIKES against systemic racism and police violence are set to take place in at least 25 US cities later this month, unions announced on Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of fast-food, care-home and airport workers will walk out in a 24-hour stoppage on July 20 for marches and rallies.
The Strike for Black Lives has been co-ordinated by organisations and trade unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than two million workers in the US and Canada.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said the union had joined the coalition to demand concrete action from companies and the US government against the economic disadvantages faced by many black and Hispanic workers, who make up a disproportionate number of those earning less than a living wage.
“We have to link these fights in a new and deeper way than ever before. Our members have been on a journey … to understanding why we cannot win economic justice without racial justice.
“This Strike for Black Lives is a way to take our members’ understanding about that into the streets,” she said.
The union has joined forces with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers, United Farm Workers and the Fight for $15 and a Union, which was launched in 2012 by fast-food workers.
Others supporting the strike include the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance and the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a coalition of the more than 150 organisations that make up the Black Lives Matter movement.
M4BL organiser Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson took aim at big businesses that have proclaimed support for BLM while profiting from racism and inequality.
“They claim to support black lives, but their business model functions by exploiting black labour — passing off pennies as ‘living wages’ and pretending to be shocked when Covid-19 sickens those black people who make up their essential workers,” she said.
“Corporate power is a threat to racial justice, and the only way to usher in a new economy is by tackling those forces that aren’t fully committed to dismantling racism.”
McDonald’s workers in Ferguson, Missouri — where black teenager Michael Brown was killed by police in 2014 — will walk out and march to the spot where he was shot.
In Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed, nursing-home workers will participate in a caravan that will include a stop at the airport, where they will be joined by wheelchair attendants and cabin cleaners demanding a $15-per-hour minimum wage.
Those unable to join the full day’s strike action will stage a symbolic walkout of eight minutes and 46 seconds, reflecting the length of time that Minnesota cop Derek Chauvin knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck to kill him.
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