Strike for Black Lives: Thousands of Workers to Walk Off the Job for 8 Minutes and 46 Seconds

Black Lives Matter painted on a roadway
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Thousands of workers across the country will walk off the job, take a knee or observe a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at noon Monday as part of the Strike For Black Lives

Workers from all different industries plan to participate, including those in healthcare, fast food, ride share services, the sciences, education and domestic workers, among others. Events are planned in more than 25 cities across the country.

The strike is targeting industries where Black people make up a large share of the workforce but continue to be underpaid, according to the strike's organizers, the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of Black advocacy groups. 

"You can't pay people minimum wage for a job, knowing it's not a living wage, knowing that [a plurality] of your workforce is black, and then come out and say, 'Black Lives Matter,'" Richard Wallace, a Movement for Black Lives leader, told CNN Business. "A collective bargaining agreement is the only ironclad way of ensuring those values that they're promoting in this moment are held onto in perpetuity until the contract is resolved."

Eight minutes and 46 seconds is the amount of time since-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin reportedly kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, which the prosecutor said killed Floyd. Floyd's death on May 25 ignited a movement for racial justice across the country. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's office has since clarified that the amount of time was actually 7 minutes and 46 seconds, but the "one-minute error made no difference in the decision to charge nor in the continuing legal hearings," the Associated Press reported.

The striking workers' demands include prioritizing justice for Black communities in healthcare, education, housing and criminal justice reform, and urging elected officials and candidates at every level "to rewrite the rules and reimagine our economy and democracy so that Black communities can thrive."

The campaign is also calling on corporations to dismantle "racism, white supremacy, and economic exploitation wherever it exists" and guarantee all workers have the right to join a union, earn at least $15 per hour and have access to paid sick leave and healthcare coverage.

The strike is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union and has the support of dozens of other unions and organizations.  

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