“The ATU proudly stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are Striking for Black Lives on July 20,” ATU International President John Costa said in a statement. “We must dismantle the racist policies that target our communities to ensure all workers are healthy, safe, and secure no matter their race, immigration status, gender, job, or where they live.”
ATU officials said members will participate in an 8 minute 46 second pause to honor the memory of Floyd, who was killed on Memorial Day when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly that long. The protests will also call for the arrest of officers involved in the deaths of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old man from Aurora, Colo., who died in police custody last year while walking home, and Breonna Taylor, a Louisville emergency room technician who was shot to death in March by police in her home during the execution of a no-knock warrant.
ATU is also focusing on racial disparities including wages for service workers. Members will be visiting rallies organized by the Service Employees International Union’s Fight for $15 campaign, which seeks higher minimum-wage standards and better benefits for all workers. The group will be targeting McDonald’s restaurants, as well as nursing home centers, as the SEIU is calling for industry-wide raises.
ATU plans to protest outside a McDonald’s in Chicago; picket outside a nursing home in Detroit, where workers are on strike over pay; rally outside a long-term-care center in Toledo; rally at Upper Senate Park in the District, where protesters will be calling on elected officials to pass laws to bring about greater racial equity.
McDonald’s USA said in a statement that it believes “black lives matter” and that it is pushing for a more inclusive society. The company said its corporate-owned restaurants pay a starting wage of more than $10 an hour on average, exceeding the federal minimum wage. “McDonald’s believes elected leaders have a responsibility to set, debate and change mandated minimum wages and does not lobby against or participate in any activities opposing raising the minimum wage,” the company said.
The transit union’s involvement will not include any walk-offs, work slowdowns or strikes of transit systems including Metro, and transit workers slated to work during the rallies will not pause while driving or operating transit vehicles, the union said in an email.
Union officials said workers participating in the Strike for Black Lives want to make the public aware of the toll the coronavirus has taken on black and minority transit workers, some of whom they said still do not have adequate personal protective equipment. More than 120 transit workers nationwide have died after contracting the virus, with workers in New York City hit the hardest. “They are dying in higher numbers because governments and employers see no need to protect the working class essential heroes working on the front lines of this pandemic,” the union said.
“We are living through a pivotal moment in global history that will determine the future of our nation,” Costa said. “Now is not the time to be observers on the sidelines. Now is the time to rise up together to inaugurate a new day of racial and economic justice for all.”