Black advocacy groups and labor activist alliances are organizing a nationwide strike to force pressure companies such as McDonald’s, Amazon, Uber and Lyft to raise wages and allow their workers to form unions.
Organizers said tens of thousands of workers in 25 cities are expected to be unemployed on July 20, a large-scale demonstration called “Black Lives Strike.” The strike targeted various industries represented by black workers, including fast food, airports, odd jobs, nursing and home health assistants.
The protests were organized by the “Black Life Movement”, a coalition of black advocacy organizations, and several labor rights organizations (including the International Service Employees’ Union and the Fast Food Industry Labor Advocacy Group for $1
What do they ask
The most important of the workers’ requirements is that their employers raise their wages, let their employees form unions, and advocate for improvements in health care, sick leave, and other benefits.
Richard Wallace, leader of the Black Life Movement, said his organization supports unions because unions provide black workers with more competitive wages and benefits.
“You cannot pay someone a minimum wage for a job, know that this is not a living wage, and know [a plurality] His staff is black, and then came out and said,’Black life is important’,” he told CNN Business. “Collective bargaining agreements are the only sure way to ensure that the values they have been promoting at this moment are retained forever until the contract is concluded. “
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the SEIU and the “fight for $15” campaign have organized demonstrations nationwide to support important workers who say they are forced to work without personal protective equipment and in some cases have captured Covid -19.
Both labor groups are fighting for union rights for the labor sector with too many black employees.
Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU, told CNN Business: “Many companies have quickly declared that black life is important, but they refuse to take specific actions to protect the health and economic security of black workers.”
McDonald’s reiterated its support for “Black Lives Matter” in a statement to CNN Business, but refused to directly answer questions about the unionization of its workers.
A McDonald’s spokesperson said in an interview: “With one of the world’s most diverse workforces, we believe in the lives of black people, and we have a responsibility to continue to listen, learn and promote an open, honest and frank society in order to achieve more Inclusive society.” E-mail statement.
Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the “Black Lives strike”. The two companies issued a public statement expressing support for black police brutality victims or black life problems campaigns when they launched plans to benefit black Americans in recent weeks.
Frontline black workers
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, black Americans account for about 13% of the US population, but account for nearly 20% of the country’s food preparation and service industries (including fast food restaurant employees). About 18% of Uber drivers and 17.6% of Lyft operating workers are black.
BLS data also shows that more than 37% of nursing, psychiatry and home health assistants in the country are black. Many of these assistants risk their own health to provide medical services to others, while employers do not provide them with health insurance.
Sepia Coleman is a certified nursing assistant and home health assistant in Memphis, Tennessee. She said she could not strike on July 20, but she planned to participate in the protest after the shift.
Coleman said she was fired from the last nursing employer and asked CNN Business to remain anonymous. Earlier, she threatened to go public, and she and several other nurses working there were diagnosed with Covid-19.
In June, Coleman was hired as a nurse by another health care company, but she was eligible to not receive the company’s health care benefits within 90 days. At present, she is one of many family health workers who provide care for others, and she does not have health insurance, but she may be infected with Covid-19.
Coleman said: “I go to work every day, pray and make sure to do what I have to do so as not to cause harm.” “I said to myself,’If I get it again, I just pray to God, I can recover from it. “If we have the rights of a trade union, we will be able to negotiate so that we have insurance from the beginning. “
Review on Amazon
African-Americans also account for more than 26% of Amazon warehouse employees.
Recently, the e-commerce giant fired several employees who participated in labor rights protests, although the company believes that these employees were fired for unrelated reasons.
Amazon faces criticism from Athena, a joint organization of workers’ rights organizations and other advocacy organizations that promoted Amazon to provide higher wages and benefits to the disproportionate black labor force.
A spokesperson for Athena said the organization is considering also participating in the “Black Lives Strike”.
Myaisha Hayes, the campaign director of MediaJustice, a core member of the Athena League, told CNN Business via email on Thursday: “The reality of these industries is that the labor of black and brown workers directly accumulates huge wealth.”